Article One of the Constitution gives Congress the power to:

  • Lay and collect taxes
  • Provide for the common defense and general welfare
  • Declare War
  • Grant letters of Marque and Reprisal
  • Raise and support armies
  • To provide and maintain a navy
  • Make rule governing land and naval forces
  • To provide for the calling forth of the Militia to execute the laws/ make laws governing them
  • To make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution these Powers


Case Law: 

  •  Bas v. Tingy: Congress’s war power is not limited to declaring war.
    • Congress’s war powers:
      • Issue a formal declaration of war (perfect war – only limited by the jus belli)
      • Issue Letters of Marque – authorization of private individuals to engage in war on behalf of the nation
      • Issue Letters of Reprisal – allows a citizen to find the enemy that committed the offence punish them.
      • Grant an imperfect war – not legally perfected (declared) – congress sets the limits on the scope.


  • Lichter v. US: The power to wage war is the power to wage war successfully.
    • Congress passed an act that gave administrative officials the power to determine and recapture excessive profits by private contractors during the war. The Petitioners argued that the delegation of power was unconstitutional b/c it was not well defined.
      •  Court found that this was a mere exercise of administrative discretion under valid legislative authority (congress’s power to raise and support the armed forces).
    •  “In time of crisis nothing could be more tragic and less expressive of the intent of the people than so to construe their constitution that by its own terms it would substantially hinder rather than help them in defending their national safety.”
    •  “The primary implication of a war power is that it shall be an effective power to wage the war successfully. Thus, while the constitutional structure and controls of our Government are our guidelines equally in war and peace, they must be read with the realistic purposes of the entire instrument filly in mind.” 

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