What Are the Inherent Powers of a Government?

Inherent powers of government are those that are beyond those that have been enumerated in the constitution. These powers are implicit and flow from the powers that have been expressly granted.

The inherent powers of government are derived from the concept of operating a national government. As a sovereign entity, the government is deemed to possess the powers that all preceding sovereign governments have possessed. One rationale for the recognition of inherent governmental powers is that the drafters of the country's constitution would have taken for granted the fact that the government would necessarily possess the inherent powers possessed by other governments and would not have found it necessary to express these powers in the constitution.

In the United States, those who are opposed to the idea of inherent governmental power argue the U.S. Constitution's authors would have been keenly aware of what powers they were and were not granting to the government. Those that support inherent governmental powers argue the vesting provisions of Articles I and II of the Constitution indicate the Founding Fathers' intention for these powers to exist.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a few inherent governmental powers, including the power to initiate eminent domain proceedings to acquire land, the ability to obtain land by discovery and occupation, the power to exclude or admit aliens, and the power to sell weapons to certain nations.