Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph Blog The Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government – Dr. Ellen's Blog

The Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government

Posted on August 17, 2016 By

The Constitution Society  provides us with the tools one needs to accurately decide what is, and is not,constitutional; and what applicable constitutions require one to do.

According to this educative body:  “Discussions of rights are sometimes confused concerning what are and are not rights of the people or powers of government or the duties of each. This is an attempt to summarize most of the more important rights, powers, and duties recognized or established in the U.S. Constitution, in Common Law as it existed at the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, or as implied therein. Not included are certain “internal” or administrative rights and powers that pertain to the various elements of government within each level with respect to each other.”

It is important to understand that the Constitution delegates (or enumerates) very specific and finite powers to the U.S. Federal Government. By deliberately restricting federal powers,  the Constitution reserves all others powers to the States, and to the People. 

Such knowledge gives citizens a way to evaluate the Constitutional powers (and associated transgressions) of a federal government that is growing beyond the limits ascribed to it by our American Founders.

Read this carefully:


(1) Exclusive powers of the Federal Gov’t

(1) To lay and collect import duties.

(2) To pay the debts of the U.S. Government.

(3) To regulate commerce with foreign nations and Indian Tribes.

(4) To regulate commerce among the States.

(5) To regulate immigration.

(6) To establish a uniform rule of naturalization.

(7) To establish uniform laws on bankruptcy throughout the United States.

(8) To coin money and regulate its value and that of foreign coin, and to issue bills of credit.

(9) To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.

(10) To fix the standard of weights and measures.

(11) To provide and regulate postal services.

(12) To establish protection for intellectual property, including patent, copyright, and trademark rights.

(13) To constitute lower national courts.

(14) To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the laws of nations.

(15) To declare war, authorize warlike activities by other than the armed forces, and make rules concerning captures.

(16) To raise, support and regulate the armed forces.

(17) To govern what part of the Militia shall be employed in the service of the United States.

(18) To exercise general Legislation over federal ground, which is limited to federal territories and districts, land purchased from states with the consent of their legislatures, U.S. flag vessels on the high seas, and the grounds of U.S. embassies abroad.

(19) To guarantee a republican form of government to the States.

(20) To enter into a treaty, alliance, or confederation with a foreign state.

(21) To declare the punishment for treason.

(22) To prescribe the manner in which the acts, records, and judicial proceedings of each state shall be proved to other states and what should be done about them.

(23) To admit new states into the Union.

(24) To dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.

(25) To make laws necessary and proper for executing the powers delegated to the U.S. government.


(2) Pre-emptive but non-exclusive powers of the Federal Gov’t include:

(1) To provide for the common defense and general welfare.

(2) To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

(3) To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia.

(4) To prescribe the times, places and manner of holding elections for members of Congress, except the places for electing senators.

(5) To conduct a census every ten years.


(3) Non-pre-emptive and non-exclusive powers of the Federal Gov’t include:

(1) To lay and collect excise taxes on commerce or income taxes on persons.

(2) To borrow money.


 (3) Restrictions of the powers of the Federal Government:

(1) No exercise of powers not delegated to it by the Constitution.

(2) No payment from the Treasury except under appropriations made by law.

(3) Excises and duties must be uniform throughout the United States.

(4) Shall pass no tax or duty on articles exported from any state.

(5) No appointment of a senator or representative to any civil office which was created while he was a member of Congress or for which the amount of compensation was increased during that period.

(6) No preferences to the ports of one state over another in regulation or tax collection.

(7) No titles of nobility shall be granted by the U.S. government, or permitted to be granted to government officials by foreign states.

(8) May not protect a State against domestic violence without the request of its legislature, unless it cannot be convened, in which case, without the consent of its executive.

(9) U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction over suits against a state by citizens of another state or foreign country.