What are three ways that the federal government has expanded its power since the ratification of the Constitution?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There are several ways the government expanded its power since the ratification of the Constitution. The courts were used and new policies were developed.

The first way occurred when the state of Maryland tried to tax the national bank. The government believed this was illegal. The Supreme Court agreed in the case of McCulloch v Maryland. The Supreme Court said a state couldn’t tax a federal institution. More importantly, it also said it was acceptable to interpret the Constitution loosely. This meant the government could do things that weren’t specifically written in the Constitution.

The second example of increasing federal power came in the court case of Gibbons v Ogden. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government is responsible for dealing with interstate trade. This gave the government more power.

A third example of the increasing power of the federal government was the development of the American System. The government taxed imports, continued to have the national bank, and began a series of internal improvement projects that included publically financed building of roads and canals.

Other examples of increased government power would include the development of the income tax and the passage of laws that limit our freedom at times. During the Civil War, an income tax was passed to help pay the cost of the war. Today, we still have the income tax. During World War I, the Sedition Act was passed. This made it illegal to criticize the government. Today, we get our luggage searched when we travel through an airport. We also get scanned as we enter public facilities. These are additional examples of how the power of the federal government increased over time.