Skip to main content

Inherent Powers


INHERENT POWERS. Inherent powers are those that the Constitution has not expressly given but which "necessarily derive from an office, position, or status" of the national government (Black's Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999).The U.S. Supreme Court has discovered federal inherent powers to take land through eminent domain proceedings, to acquire land by discovery and occupation, to exclude or admit aliens, and to sell munitions to belligerent nations. After the Court had, during most of the twentieth century, broadly construed the commerce clause to allow expanded federal regulation, the doctrine was rarely invoked.


Robinson, Donald L. "Inherent Powers." In The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court. Edited by Kermit L. Hall. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Stephen B.Presser

See alsoConstitution of the United States .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Inherent Powers." Dictionary of American History. . 17 Mar. 2018 <>.

"Inherent Powers." Dictionary of American History. . (March 17, 2018).

"Inherent Powers." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved March 17, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.