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The Supreme Court’s Role in Restoring Federalism


The Spending Clause - Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution reads as follows:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

The spending clause tells us that Congress can only tax and spend on activities authorized by the Constitution, as long as that activity is spent on something that truly benefits the national defense or welfare of the whole country.

The Commerce Clause - Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution says Congress shall have the power:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

The commerce clause says very clearly that Congress may regulate the sale or trade of goods that cross state lines. Anything else is an unconstitutional expansion of federal power that should instead be reserved to the states.

Article I - Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative branch and describes its powers. It is the most detailed article of the Constitution and lays out many enumerated powers of bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Article I, Section 8 is famous for listing out the explicit powers of Congress. In addition to the many enumerated powers, it contains the commerce clause and the “necessary and proper” clause.

Enumerated Powers - Article I, Section 8 contains the “enumerated powers” of Congress. It details the rights of Congress to lay and collect taxes for the national defense and general welfare of the country, borrow money, regulate interstate commerce, establish currency, and many others. These rights have been further defined by statutes written by the legislature and the ensuing rulings from the Supreme Court.