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American Government Final - Essay Example

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The necessary and proper clause, as represented by Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, is a controversial topic for political commentators, Supreme Court justices, and lawmakers themselves, and has been so for hundreds of years (Engdahl, 2011)…
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American Government Final Essay
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Download file to see previous pages 43). Alternatively, “implied” powers are “those powers given to Congress by Article 1, Section 8, clause 18, of the Constitution that are not specifically named but are provided for by the necessary and proper clause” (p. 45). Accordingly, the necessary and proper clause exists to afford these implied powers to Congress in order to make sure the federal government has the power to carry out the laws “which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States” (p. 44). This clause is problematic for many because it falls along the Federalist/Anti-Federalist divide and the contemporary Conservative/Liberal divide. However, the problem with the necessary and proper clause is not with its controversial and contentious nature, but with the fact that it is vague, ambiguous, and is designed for subjective interpretations and applications of Constitutional law. The phrase “necessary and proper” in clause 18 of Article 1, Section 8 entitles Congress to make laws that extend beyond what the Constitution enumerates in the previous 17 clauses of that Section. This is taken to be a relationship between an end-goal and the means of achieving that goal (Engdahl, 2011). The end-goal must be a necessary for the achievement of the purpose of a government, which include the formation of “a more perfect Union” and the establishment of “Justice” (US Constitution, 1787). These ends are the explicit goals of the enumerated powers; in a similar vein, the implied powers are given only as they are necessary and proper to exercising the enumerated powers. This interpretation of the “necessary and proper” clause is based on the context in which it appears. Coming after 17 enumerated powers, the final clause specifies that the Congress is able to make laws that ensure the foregoing powers (namely, the enumerated powers) can be exercised sufficiently. In other words, the eighteenth clause of Section 8 does not give a blank check to Congress to make any rules or regulations it feels like passing. Rather, the expansion of implied powers must always be taken in necessary and proper reference to one of the enumerated powers. The elastic clause produced controversy among those who debated the Constitution’s merits as a founding document. Federalists claimed that the clause allowed only the execution of powers already granted by the Constitution: namely, the enumerated powers that are specified in the seventeen clauses listed before it. Among the proponents of this interpretation were Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Madison wrote in Federalist No. 44 that, No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included” (Madison, 1788). In other words, the Federalists’ argument stood that without the elastic clause, the Congress would be paralyzed by the Constitution: only able to perform those acts allowed to them by the enumerated powers. In accordance with the view that the Constitution is a living document, these framers of the Constitution believed that clause 18 was absolutely necessary for a changing society in which the government too had to continuously adapt to new demands. Among Anti-Federalists, such as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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