Enabling Clause

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An enabling clause is a clause or provision in a statute or constitution that gives government officials the authority to put the law into effect and to enforce it.

See below for the U.S. Constitution Amendments with enabling clauses as well as their respective enabling clauses:

  • Amendment XIII (1865). “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
  • Amendment XIV (1868). “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
  • Amendment XV (1870). “The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” 
  • Amendment XVIII (1919). “The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
  • Amendment XIX (1920). “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
  • Amendment XXIII (1961). “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” [repealed by Amendment XXI]
  • Amendment XXIV (1964). “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
  • Amendment XXVI (1971). “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

While Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution granted Congress the power to enable all of the legal requirements of the Constitution of 1791, it is properly thought of as an enumeration of powers and not as an enabling clause.

See also Enabling Clauses.

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]