Not Stated, but Not Reserved
In addition, there are
hidden within the express federal
powers. For example, the power to make rules about citizenship
the power to monitor the flow of people through the nation’s borders.
The Constitution lets the federal government do things that aren’t
specifically stated but are “necessary and proper” for carrying out the
other federal powers.
There are also
that both states
and the federal government have, and that both can
can exercise at the same time — as long as they don’t interfere with each other.
Normally, interference isn’t an issue because federal and state governments operate
as two separate systems. For example, both have the power to tax, spend, and
borrow money because both levels of government need money to function and
provide services. Both levels have the power to define crimes and determine the
punishment for those crimes, so both levels have the power to create a justice system. But the states
put one big limit on themselves in the Constitution: If state and federal laws do interfere with each
other, federal laws are supreme.
Power to the States!
© 2016 iCivics, Inc.
Police Power: Not What it Sounds Like
The biggest power the states kept for themselves is one you won’t find
defined in any constitution: the
. This is a sweeping power
that lets states do things like this:
• Protect the health, safety, and morals of the community
• Pass and enforce laws that promote the general welfare
• Limit private rights for the good of the public
• Address major needs in the community
While the police power is the reason police departments can exist, this
power is about a lot more than police officers. Laws based on the police
power can be wildly different from state to state, and they can cover
everything from the kind of electrical wire allowed in new construction to
noise ordinances that limit how loud motorcycle pipes can be. Each state
has its own needs and priorities, and states use their police powers to
address issues in ways that make sense for their own citizens.
Source: TX Dept. of Public Safety
MORE Power to the States?
When the states agreed to the Constitution, the states were the
only ones with power to keep or give away. Because the states also
have the power to amend the Constitution, the states could—in
theory—strip the federal government of its powers by changing the
Constitution. Changing the Constitution is really difficult because
it requires getting a huge portion of people and states to agree on
something that will become “the law of the land.” America also has
over 200 years of history built on the system of federal-state power-
sharing that the Founders created, along with a history of respecting
that system instead of trying to change it. So a state-power revolution
probably won’t happen. But it could, and that’s the point.