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The U. S. Constitution | The Bill of Rights | Amendments 11-27

US Government Powers

Put simply, the U. S. Government has very limited powers. Originally the U. S. Constitution allowed the government broad powers due to ambiguity - "to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States". To provide for the general welfare of the United States allows the government to pass any legislation it wants.

On Dec 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified, limiting the Federal Government's powers:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Amendment 10 - ratified December 15, 1791

After ratification of the Bill Of Rights the Federal Government has only those powers specifically delegated to it, which are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. Limits to Federal power(the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, no Bill of Attainder, etc) are specified in Article 1, Section 9.

These powers, along with the amendments to the Constitution, are the only powers the U. S. Government has. Everything else is reserved for the states or the people according to Amendment 10 in the Bill of Rights.

These are limits to the U S Government.