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Flashcards in Powers of Congress Deck (22)
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For a federal law to be constitutional:

  1. There must be a congressional power that justifies it
  2. Must not violate a constitutional right


For a state law to be constitutional:

Must not violate a right


Source's of Congress's legislative power

  1. Enumerated Powers
  2. Enabling Clauses (13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments)
  3. Necessary and Proper Clause


What can Congress regulate under its Commerce Power?

  1. channels of interstate commerce (i.e., highways, waterways, and air traffic);

  2. instrumentalities of interstate commerce (i.e., cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes); and

  3. activities that “substantially affect” interstate commerce. 

What are the elements of SET?

Requirements for exercising commerce power under substantial effects test:

Congress must show:

  1. that the regulated activity is “economic” in nature; and 

  2. that the regulated activity (when taken cumulatively throughout the nation) has a substantial effect on interstate commerce


Taxing Power

Congress has the power to:

  • lay and collect taxes,
  • duties,
  • imposts, and
  • excises to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare. 


Spending Power

Congress has the powere to spend for the general welfare


Congress may place a condition on receipt of federal funds if 5 requirements are met:

  1. the spending serves the general welfare;

  2. the condition is unambiguous;

  3. the condition relates to the federal program;

  4. the state is not required to undertake unconstitutional action; and

  5. the amount in question is not so great as to be considered coercive to the state’s acceptance 


War and Defense Powers

  1. declare war;

  2. raise and support armies;

  3. provide and maintain a navy; and

  4. organize, arm, discipline, and call forth a militia. 


Investigatory Power

  • Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress to conduct investigations incident to its legislative power
  • The power extends to any matter related to its lawmaking power


Power of Eminent Domain

congress has power to take private property

BUT, if congress takes, it must pay just compensation


Admiralty and Maritime Power

power to fix and determine the maritime laws throughout the country


Bankruptcy Power

Congress has the power “to establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States


Postal Power

Congress has the power to establish post offices


Copyright and Patent Power

Congress may “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries


Speech and Debate Clause

Cannot punish a senator or representative for acts that occur in the regular course of the legislative process 


What are the Civil War Amendments





13th Amendment

Bans slavery


14th Amendment

Prohibits states from violating Due Process, Equal Protection, and Privilegs and Immunities


15th Amendment

Bans race discrimination in voting


To validly enforce the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendment, Congress must show that 

  1. state governments have engaged in widespread violations of the amendment; and

  2. the legislative remedy is “congruent with and proportional to” the violations. 


Delegation Power

Congress can create an agency and gives that agency the power to make rules that have the force of law


*There must be some intelligible principle guiding the agency