Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MBE Fast Fact: Federal Police Power

If you've been working through Constitutional Law questions, it's likely you've come across answer choices that claim the constitutionality of a federal law on the basis of Congress's police power. It's important to note that only under very limited circumstances will such an answer be correct.

Though states are said to have police powers (giving them the right to enact laws for the health, welfare, and safety of their citizens), the same does not hold true for the federal government. Rather, Congress has no general police power. The only exception to keep in mind for purposes of the MBE is that Congress can constitutionally act as per their "police powers" over the District of Columbia, federal lands, military bases, and Indian Reservations.

Note that this narrow exception is based on the fact that Congress has a property power to make rules for territories and other properties of the United States.

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