New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



79 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1 (2010)


This paper investigates the corporate law background of the Necessary and Proper Clause. It turns out that corporate charters of the colonial and early federal period bristled with similar clauses, often attached to grants of rulemaking power. Analysis of these corporate charters suggests that the Necessary and Proper Clause does not create independent lawmaking competence; does not confer general legislative power; does not grant Congress unilateral discretion to determine the scope of its authority; requires that there be a reasonably close connection between constitutionally recognized ends and the legislative means chosen to accomplish those ends; and requires that federal law may not, without adequate justification, discriminate against or otherwise disproportionately affect the interests of particular citizens vis-à-vis others.

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