Powers of the United States Congress as Established by the Constitution

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The United States Congress was established by the Constitution to be the legislature branch of the Government as distinguished from the executive branch which is headed by the President and the judiciary. The system is organized in order for each of the branches to act as a check and balance on each of the other branches (Moyers, 1987). This check and balance nature of the system often results in creating friction between the branches but this was precisely the purpose behind the Founding Fathers setting the system up in this manner. The theory was that this would diminish the possibility of any one branch becoming too powerful in relation to the other branches. Congress, like the other two branches of the U.S. government, is limited to exercising only the powers specifically granted the Constitution. The powers granted Congress are enumerated in several different locations in the Constitution but the majority of its powers are set forth in Article I. The first of Congress' enumerated powers is its authority to regulate commerce among the several states. Since first being addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden (Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824) the power of Congress to engage itself in the operation of interstate commerce has been expanded, over time, to the point where Congress' power to regulate commerce now includes any activities that "substantially affects" interstate commerce. One of Congress' most significant powers is the authority
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