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Elastic Clause

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa May 10, 2019
One of the most powerful clauses in the US Constitution is the elastic clause. The following post will help you understand what it is and its significance.
You must have heard of the landmark US Supreme Court case, McCulloch V. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819). It is supposed to be the first case where the U.S. Supreme Court had applied the elastic clause. If you are wondering what this clause is, then read the following section for more details.


The most powerful clause of the US Constitution is the elastic clause. It is also known as the Necessary and Proper Clause. The specific powers and duties of the US Congress are enlisted in the Constitution.
The most important of these powers of US Congress are listed in the Article I, Section 8. It contains about 17 paragraphs that enumerate the powers bestowed upon the Congress.


It is also known as the Basket Clause, the Coefficient Clause and the Sweeping Clause other than the Necessary and Proper Clause. The definition covered in Article One of the United States Constitution, section 8, clause 18 is as follows:
"The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."


You must have understood from theĀ given definition, that it allows the Government of the United States to make all laws that seem to be necessary and proper. According to it, the Government can execute the foregoing powers and all the other powers that are vested upon it by the Constitution.
The significance of the clause is that it grants powers to the Congress that are implied by the constitution and not explicitly stated. Interpretation of the clause was a debatable subject that led to an argument between the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and the Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.
Hamilton thought this clause would help the Congress with a broad range of implied powers. Whereas, Jefferson was under the thought that it would not be wise to give too much power to one branch of the government.
According to Jefferson, 'necessary' meant 'essential'. The interpretation by Thomas Jefferson would have strengthened the State's Right. However, Hamilton's interpretation helped made the central government grow stronger.
The landmark US Supreme Court case, McCulloch V. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) helped establish the fact that states had a subordinate power to the federal government. Thus, it became the cornerstone for the extension of the federal power subsequently. It is an important clause that helps the Congress exercise its implied rights.