Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Powers of U.S. Congress: Where Constitutional Authority Begins and Ends

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Powers of U.S. Congress: Where Constitutional Authority Begins and Ends

Article excerpt

The Powers of U.S. Congress: Where Constitutional Authority Begins and Ends. Edited by Brien Hallett. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 298 pages. Acid free $71.20 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4323-5). E-book available (978-1-44084324-2).

This book offers an overview and analysis of the twenty-one powers of the US Congress as enumerated in the Constitution. It is organized by the powers of Congress in the order that they appear in Article I Section 8, Article II Section 2, and the enforcement provisions in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Editor Brien Hallett (University of Hawaii, Manoa) introduces the book with historical background on how the American colonies developed the concepts and structures that led to the Constitution. Most important are social contract theory and the influence of the European commercial revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that had an impact on the original design of colonial government in America. Each of the nineteen chapters focuses on powers to legislate and enforce federal laws on issues such as taxes, commerce, immigration, bankruptcies, civil rights, advise and consent of appointments and treaties, and regulation of militia. Chapters begin with definitions of key terms followed by sections on historical development, future implications, and further readings. The strength of the book lies with the analysis of historical development of each Congressional power. It surveys how the powers have been interpreted or used by legislative and executive branches and the federal courts based on precedent from the colonial period to the present time. …

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