Essay Example on Plenary Powers in the US Constitution

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1110 Words
Date:  2022-12-29


According to the constitution of the United States of America, plenary power can be described as the power granted to a person or a certain body in absolute terms, with unlimited exercise boundaries. When plenary power is granted to a certain person or a body, all other people or bodies are delimited from exercising it. Though plenary powers do not have control over judicial rulings and abide by the judicial setting whatsoever. In the US several bodies have been given plenary powers.

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Congress plenary powers

The constitution of the US grants the Congress plenary powers. Under Article I, Section 8, 3rd clause - section relating to commerce, it is stated that " have plenary power over interstate commerce", though this may have no significant effect on working of the judiciary in making rules in regard to commerce within the states of the US. For any activity which has been termed to be legal within interstate- commerce, the state has rights to have control over such activity provided the boundaries laid in the constitution are not exceeded.

Congress has been granted plenary power over war declaration, this can be deduced from Article I, section 8, 11th clause. "Yet the president has control over the Armed forces as Commander-in-chief of the US army". This absolute powers always run into constant collisions with the war powers Resolution.

The Congress has absolute powers to create and charter, corporate bodies though statutes enhancement which can give only through plenary power to legislate. This tends to oppose the constitutional hypothesis that: statute must comport with the constitutional requirements.

Congress has also been given sovereignty power over price rates, what the customers will be charged to finance the electricity generated by the state. An example is TVA which was given plenary power to set prices to the electricity generated. This was done by statutorily setting TVA's rates exemption and out of the legal review. This was done when TVA was constitutionally granted plenary power over its rates of power. TVA plenary powers may be limited since the Congress can amend and control the electricity rates to the amount it wants any time.

The president's plenary powers to commute or pardon the ones being convicted under the state laws is beyond the Congress reach hence may result in having TVA given absolute plenary powers.

The US constitution and the Native Tribes

The conceptual inherent authority of native tribes to rule themselves with the American borders can be termed as the tribal sovereignty in the United States. The federal government of the United States describes other tribal nations as "independent domestic states/nations" and has set some laws to take into account the presence of such independent nations. This creates a mutual relationship between the tribes and the federal government.

The constitution of the United States has severally mentioned these native tribes. To take a preview of sample quotes from the American constitution:

  • Article I, second section, the 3rd clause states that "representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states with the exclusion of Indians". According to the overview story given in the constitution suggests that there were Indians existing and showed general sovereignty and never formed any communities with independence.
  • According to Article I, section 8 it is stated that Congress will exercise commerce within the interstates with the inclusion of Indians. This shows that the Indian tribes are separated from the federal government and are treated as independent states.
  • The amendment of section 2 of the United States constitution amends the apportionment of a representative of the Indian tribes to the federal government. These few inclusion of the Native tribes within the United States Constitution has continually been amended and also clarified by some of the federal rules in the United States.

The congress passes laws which facilitate trade with the native tribes found at the American boundaries.

Plenary over tribe

Judiciary has deferred to the rules made by the federal government over the past over 200 years ago. The highest court has always sustained almost every rule given by the federal government especially those with direct control over the Indians. This can be as a result of the intimacy of being below the plenary power of the federal government or even serving a violation of human rights. Such a difference between the judiciary and the federal government has always been settled by allowing plenary power given to Congress to regulate the Indians affairs. In 1977 the court openly rejected doctrine use of politics deference to the branching politics challenges. Congress having plenary power over Indian affairs control raises a question since the judiciary continuously feel uncomfortable with it.

Boundaries of plenary power in the US

The plenary power is delimited by immigration- due to the occupation of the statute, the plenary power to the Congress is always pre-empted. According to Hines v. Davidowitz (1941), when the court was ruling over the Federal Alien Registration Act was preempted the federal rules in a particular area may preclude regulation consistency of a nation.

The court may end up invalidating the state statutes that tend to conflict with the national federal laws. The bases are highly co-related to give equal magnitude protection to the statements in order to avoid laws set with aim of no-citizen discrimination. The court has upheld those rules which may result in an extreme impact on foreign currencies. The question on the reciprocal of a conditioned statue on the inheritance of non-resident rights to the US whether could apply to the no-residential home nation by a US citizen Clark v. Allen (Sup.Ct.1947).

It is suggested that if the plenary rule is applied to acceptance of foreign currency, this would land the US to a forbidden section and it may not allow. The provision of entry into a foreign country's politics by the judiciary may lead to constant collisions with the federal government. This should be left for the Congress power to decide.


According to the US constitution, Congress has been given plenary rights which can be exercised to the whole inter-states but with defined boundaries. When plenary powers are given to certain bodies, it is the work of the judiciary to ensure that the boundaries set are not exceeded.


Motomura, H. (1990). Immigration law after a century of plenary power: Phantom constitutional norms and statutory interpretation. Yale Law Journal, 545-613.

Legomsky, S. H. (1994). Ten More Years of Plenary Power: Immigration, Congress, and the Courts. Hastings Const. LQ, 22, 925.

Aleinikoff, T. A. (1989). Federal Regulation of Aliens and the Constitution. American Journal of International Law, 83(4), 862-871.

Chin, G. J. (1999). Is There a Plenary Power Doctrine-A Tentative Apology and Prediction for Our Strange but Unexceptional Constitutional Immigration Law. Geo. Immigr. LJ, 14, 257.

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