Congressional Power | The Enduring Constitution: Congressional Power
Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
American Government: Congressional Power
- 1789 The Constitution gives expressed powers to Congress in Article 1, Section 8.
- 1819 In McCulloch v. Maryland, the Supreme Court holds that the powers to tax, borrow, and regulate commerce give Congress the implied power to establish a national bank.
- 1824 Gibbons v. Ogden is the first commerce clause case to reach the Supreme Court. The Court's broad definition of commerce in its ruling extends federal authority.
- 1862 The U.S. government first issues legal tender notes, which are popularly called greenbacks.
- 1870 In Hepburn v. Griswold the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution does not authorize the printing of paper money.
- 1870 The Court reverses its position on the printing of paper money and holds that issuing paper money is a proper use of the currency power in the Legal Tender Cases. The decision in Juliard v. Greenman (1884) reaffirms this holding.
- 1890 The Sherman Antitrust Act, based on the commerce power, regulates monopolies and other practices that limit competition.
- 1935 The Wagner Act, based on the commerce power, recognizes labor's right to bargain collectively.
- 1935 The Social Security Act is passed.
- 1937 Supreme Court upholds the Social Security Act of 1935 as a proper exercise of the powers to tax and provide for the general welfare in Steward Machine Co. v. Davis and Helvering v. Davis.
- 1956 The Interstate and National Highway Act, based on the commerce and war powers, provides for a national interstate highway system.
- 1964 The Supreme Court holds the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a valid exercise of the commerce power in Heart of Atlanta v. United States.
- 1965 Congress amends the Social Security Act of 1935 to create Medicare, which covers hospital and other health-care costs of the elderly.
- 1973 With the War Powers Resolution of 1973, Congress claims the right to restrict the use of American forces in combat when a state of war does not exist.
- 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act, based on the commerce power, prohibits discrimination against the physically impaired.
- 1995 In United States v. Lopez, the Court strikes down the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 on the grounds that the federal government invades reserved powers of the states with this legislation.