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Study Notes

Limited Government

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Limited government is the principle that an overarching and over reaching government is unacceptable. It is the belief that government should operate a minimalist intervention policy where it concerns a person’s individual liberties or the economy.

The idea for limited government is enshrined in the US Constitution, because when being written, the founding fathers were concerned at the possibility of tyrannical government. This was entirely based upon the experiences that the colonies had faced under British rule.

In the US Constitution, limited government is best shown in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. In the Ninth Amendment, it asserts that the rights of the people do not explicitly have to be written in the Constitution for those rights to apply. The Tenth Amendment reinforces limited government through the instruction that powers not given to the Federal Government are reserved ‘to the states… or to the people’.

However, the door is open to an expanded government through the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution, sometimes called the elastic clause. This ambiguous clause, can allow Congress to legislate in areas that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

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