Constitutional doctrine of limiting the Federal Government to explicitly granted powers
Reserved Powers


Individual Liberty and the Constitution: A Response to Robert Bork, by Roger Pilon, 9 Jul 2008
Responds to Robert Bork's essay "Individual Liberty and the Constitution" published in the June 2008 issue of The American Spectator
"Thus, given the enumeration of powers—'few and defined' (Madison, Federalist 45)—the vision that emerges, unlike Bork's, is one of 'wide areas' in which individuals are free simply because they're born free; whereas in 'some areas' majorities are entitled to rule because they're so authorized. There, indeed, is the Constitution's theory of legitimacy: power is legitimate only if constitutionally authorized.The doctrine of enumerated powers is thus key to understanding the Constitution: absent a power, by implication there is a right."
James Madison: Father of the Implied-Powers Doctrine, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Jul 2013
Examines whether James Madison intended the U.S. federal government to have "expressly delegated" powers vs. "powers by implication"
"Thus, the man who promised that the powers of government under the new Constitution would be 'few and defined' now said that any constitution must have unenumerated implied powers. His colleagues should not have been surprised. In Federalist 44 Madison had written that 'No axiom is more clearly established in law or in reason than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included.'"
Related Topic: James Madison
On the Origins of the Modern Libertarian Legal Movement [PDF], by Roger Pilon, Chapman Law Review, 2013
Historical survey of libertarian influences on constitutional and other areas of law, from the mid-1970s to recent decisions
"Twenty-five years and more ago, most conservatives had made their peace with the New Deal Court's rejection of the very centerpiece of the Constitution, the doctrine of enumerated powers, from which the document derives such legitimacy as it can have as positive law. ... Their concern ... was that courts might recognize rights not enumerated in the document. Yet the plain text of the Constitution, together with its structure, should make it clear to any textualist that countless rights, only a few of which could have been enumerated in the document, are nevertheless recognized by and hence 'in' the Constitution ..."
The Bill of Rights: Reserved Powers, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, May 2005
"Under the Constitution, the federal government is a government of express enumerated powers rather than a government of general powers. ... The state governments, on the other hand, are governments of general powers, but with two exceptions. ... The Bill of Rights, by its own terms, applies only to the federal government ..."
Related Topic: Reserved Powers
The Constitution or Liberty, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Dec 2007
Contrasts Article II of the Articles of Confederation with the Tenth Amendment and Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and discusses the implied powers of the latter document
"Last year Professor Calvin H. Johnson of the University of Texas Law School published an illuminating paper titled 'The Dubious Enumerated Power Doctrine' ... Johnson presents formidable evidence that the framers had no intention of limiting the national government's powers to the 16 items listed in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution."
Related Topics: James Madison, Reserved Powers
The Federal War on Gold, Part 1, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Aug 2006
Discusses some of the provisos in the U.S. constitution regarding coinage and the issuance of paper money
"That part of the Constitution expressly prohibited the states from issuing paper money. Why isn't there a similar constitutional restriction for the federal government? The answer lies in the overall philosophy of the Constitution. In establishing the federal government, the Constitution made clear that the government's powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution. If a power wasn't enumerated, it was understood that it could not be exercised."
The Federal War on Gold, Part 2, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, Sep 2006
Continues with the brief monetary history of the United States, discussing Abraham Lincoln's war loans and legal tender law, and the Supreme Court cases of Hepburn v. Griswold and Knox v. Lee
"Keep in mind, first, that our American ancestors didn't trust government, for they understood that the greatest threat to the liberty and well-being of a citizenry lay with its own government. Thus, while the Constitution brought the federal government into existence, it simultaneously limited its powers to those enumerated in the document. If the power wasn't listed, it simply could not be exercised, no matter how important the need, no matter how severe the crisis or emergency."