Constitution Economic Powers Constitution Article essay

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Each state and many banks eventually developed their own currencies, greatly complicating trade and issues of security, both through increased potential for fraud and a lack of reliable knowledge about the strength of a particular currency at any given time. These issues were seen as largely responsible for a series of financial crises in the nineteenth century, and even in part for the Great Depression. The establishment of a uniform national currency was not established via a Constitutional amendment, but it is hard to imagine accepting anything else today.

Section V: Judicial Developments

Other than the judicial interpretation of the taxation powers granted to Congress which led to the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment as detailed above, judicial development concerning Congress' powers to tax and to mint money has been significantly eclipsed by legislative changes. In fact, there are some significant legal questions concerning the Federal Reserve System and its mixture of public and private control that have yet to be addressed by the courts, effectively rubber stamping the legislation that led to the creation of this institution and the perpetuation of its growing influence on the United Sates' and the world's economy. While many cases involving interstate commerce have been decided, the actual Constitution has been left largely untouched.

Section VI: Meaning for Administrative Practice

Despite the silence of the judiciary in regards to the broad elements of taxation and money making, the implications for individuals and public agencies regarding these provisions of Section 8 have been enormous. The effects that taxes have on all aspects of commerce, which in turn affects the daily life of every person living in this country and arguably in most of the world, are enormous, especially given that the United States is far and away the world's largest economy. There are, of course, the already mentioned examples of the income tax and the Federal Reserve System, both of which have come to influence the lives of citizens and the operations of public agencies in innumerable and complex ways. These are only two of the largest influences of these provisions, however; many others also exist.

One of the provisions not fully discussed above concerns the actual minting of money and the prosecution of counterfeiters. These powers have been utilized in increasingly complex ways as technology permits. The recent arrest of two North Carolina teenagers exposes practical applications of both of these provisions. The unnamed suspects were both arrested with counterfeit hundred dollar bills and charged with a felony -- they were in direct violation of a Constitutional provision (Reed 2009). The ability for Congress to make money, and to appropriate funds for the development of money that defies counterfeiting, is clearly shown in an interesting detail of the case: the bills were actually bleached one-dollar bills, meaning that they would pass the "marker" test for the Treasury's special paper (Reed 2009). The ability for the treasury to produce this special paper for making money is derived directly from Section 8.

The standards of weights and measures have also not been sufficiently addressed above, but a mention of their practical value in the operation of daily life in the country is certainly required. From the small seal at every gas pump testifying to the accuracy of the gauge (ensuring that we get the amount of gas we pay for) to the measuring of property lines, the activities and policies of the federal government decide many aspects of quantifiable commerce and trade in this country. If such standards did not exist, suspicions of cheating and even straightforward misunderstandings leading to disputed would be common occurrences. this was why this provision was lifted wholesale from the Articles of Confederation; its practicality made it one of the most necessary and least political points of the Constitution.

Section VII: Summary

The impact of the financial powers granted to Congress by Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution is enormous. Established primarily for the purposes of maintaining security and harmonious prosperity, the financial clout of the federal government has increased dramatically over the centuries. From the establishment of income taxes and the Federal Reserve System to technological developments in the making of money and the tracking, catching, and prosecuting of counterfeiters, these powers as enumerated continue to evolve with little judicial discretion. The recent federal bailouts are evidence of the freedom enjoyed by Congress in regards to money, though the backlash from these payouts have yet to be fully realized. Perhaps the future will bring more citizen-responsive regulations about how money is spent, and why.


Avalon Project. (2008). "The Federalist Papers." Yale Law School. Accessed 30 July 2009.

Collier, C. (1987). Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787. new York: Ballantine.

Legal Information Institute. The U.S. Constitution. Cornell University Law School. Accessed 30 July 2009.

Reed, A. (2009). "Teens arrested in counterfeiting case." 10 July. Accessed 30 July 2009.

Terrell, E. (2004). "History of the U.S. income tax." Library of Congress. Accessed…[continue]

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