Lesson Plan: Enumerated and Implied Powers of Congress

Enumerated and Implied Powers

Peter Sagal discussed the difference between enumerated and implied powers.


Article I Section 8 of the Constitution lists powers expressly delegated to Congress. This lesson has students learn about the concepts of enumerated and implied powers of Congress and explore real life examples of these powers. Students will use the Constitution Clips resources to summarize the specific enumerated powers and identify the additional powers of Congress implied by them. This lesson works well in classes with one-to-one devices or could be adapted to fit a flipped classroom.



    Begin the class by viewing the following video clip that provides an overview of enumerated and implied powers. Students should answer the questions associated with the clip. After viewing the clip, review the answers with the students to ensure they have an understanding of the concepts.

    Video Clip: Enumerated and Implied Powers (2:15)

    • Explain what is meant by enumerated powers. Where are they found?

    • What is the Necessary and Proper Clause? What does this do to the powers of Congress?

    • What are examples of these implied powers of Congress from the video clip?

    Assign each of the enumerated powers of Congress found in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to individual students or small groups. Have the students use the Constitution Clips website or the links below to view video clips about each power. Use the Enumerated Power Handout to summarize the assigned power and record implied powers associated with it. Students should determine what other powers would be "necessary and proper" in order for Congress to execute these enumerated powers. Students will present their summaries and implied powers to the class and the class will complete the chart.


    After students have completed the Enumerated Power Handout, students will work in small groups to rank these enumerated powers from most important to least important. Each group will share their rankings with the class and explain why they chose this order.


    As an exit slip, have the students individually respond to the following prompt:

    • Explain the importance of the Necessary and Proper Clause to the functioning of Congress.

    Argumentative Essay Free Response Question- Foreign Policy Powers Respond to this writing prompt (Google Doc) presented in the style of the Argumentative Question component of the redesigned AP Government and Politics exam.

    Concept Application Questions Free Response Question- Respond to this writing prompt (Google Doc) presented in the style of the Argumentative Question component of the redesigned AP Government and Politics exam.

    Rewrite the Constitution- If you were to write the Constitution today, what enumerated powers would you include? Recreate Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to reflect our nation's current values, technology and ideals. After rewriting these powers, explain why you choose these.

    Research a Bill- Using the C-SPAN's Congressional Chronicle, choose a bill that was recently introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Research the proposed legislation and provide the following for the bill:

    • Name, Number and Sponsor(s)
    • Summary of the Bill
    • An explanation of which enumerated power(s) of Congress this bill relates to

    Additional Prompts:

    • Should the powers of Congress have been more specifically described in the Constitution?
    • Is the federal government given too much power through the necessary and proper clause?
    • Does Congress and the federal government have the appropriate amount of power? Explain your reasoning.

Additional Resources


  • Bankruptcy
  • Clause
  • Commerce
  • Constitution
  • Copyright
  • Counterfeit
  • Elastic Clause
  • Enumerated Power
  • Expressed Powers
  • House Of Representatives
  • Implied Powers
  • Intellectual Property
  • Maritime
  • Militia
  • Naturalization
  • Necessary And Proper Clause
  • Patent
  • Piracy
  • Regulate
  • Senate


Constitutional FoundationLegislative Branch


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