The Enumerated Powers of States

26 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2012

See all articles by Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes

Date Written: 2003


The U.S. Constitution enumerated federal powers, but not reserved state powers --- precisely because the latter were so vast. During the ratification controversy, however, spokespersons for the Constitution were pressured to enumerate those powers that would remain within the exclusive province of the states. Accordingly, many advocates of the Constitution did so, and together their lists of reserved state powers form a consistent whole.

This article collects the enumerations of powers represented to remain within exclusive state authority. Significantly, the enumerations include activities that the Founders understood had interstate "spillover" effects --- showing that the existence of such effects did not necessarily imply federal jurisdiction.

Further, the Founders' enumerations show that expansive modern interpretations of the Constitution's Taxation, Commerce, and Property Clauses are simply not historically viable.

Keywords: constitution, states rights, tenth amendment, reserved powers, original intent, original meaning, original understanding

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Natelson, Robert G., The Enumerated Powers of States (2003). Nevada Law Review, Vol. 3, p. 469, 2003. Available at SSRN:

Robert G. Natelson (Contact Author)

Independence & Montana Policy Institutes ( email )

727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics