“We the people of the United States . . .”



From the New York Times crossword, August 28, 2015

41 Down   Item authorized by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution

First, the easy part – Article 1, Section 8 deals with the legislative branch of the U.S. government, or Congress.  That is the short answer for your quiz bowl, but just what is covered in this article?  Plenty.  So, for those of us who need a review on our Constitution, just what duties are outlined in this article?  I’m glad you asked!  They are:

  • Collect taxes
  • Borrow money
  • Regulate commerce with foreign nations
  • Establish a rule of naturalization and laws on bankruptcies (yes, these two are in the same section ?!)
  • Coin money
  • Outline punishment for counterfeiting
  • Establish post offices and roads
  • Provide patent laws, restrictions
  • Jurisdiction to establish the lower courts
  • Define and punish piracy
  • Declare war
  • Raise and support armies
  • Provide and maintain a navy
  • Make rules for regulation of land and naval forces
  • Use of militia for executing laws of the government
  • Provide for organization, discipline and supplying said militia
  • Execute legislation for the District of Columbia
  • Make all laws necessary and proper for executing its duties

WAIT!  Hold the phone!  That last power with its “necessary and proper” phrasing is known as the “elastic clause” and understandably its wording has caused considerable controversy over the years – pretty much from its inception.

In the first case, McCulloch v. Maryland, the state of Maryland had imposed a tax on out of state banks.  Problem was, the Second Bank of the United States was the only one, and in a landmark decision by Chief Justice John Marshall, he wrote that while the Constitution did not implicitly allow for Congress to create a federal bank, its power was implied in the necessary and proper clause.  Other subsequent applications of this clause included Congress creating the Federal Kidnapping Act, making it a federal crime to transport a kidnapped person across state lines because it regulated interstate activity.

A few quick facts about the rest of the document – there are seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.  Interestingly enough, it is the shortest constitution compared to others world -wide.  Want to test your knowledge of the Constitution?  Try this quiz:  Constitution quiz


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