Enabling Clause Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Enabling Clause, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Enabling Clause?

n. a provision in a new statute which empowers a particular public official (Governor, State Treasurer) to put it into effect, including making expenditures.

History and Meaning of Enabling Clause

An enabling clause is a provision in a statute that delegates power to a particular public official or entity to enforce or perform part or all of the statute. It is a means of implementing legislative decisions by empowering a designated authority to take action. Enabling clauses often outline the specific responsibilities or duties of the designated authority.

Enabling clauses have existed in American law since the country's founding, but their use has expanded significantly in the 20th century. They are commonly used in federal and state laws governing everything from education policy to environmental regulation. Enabling clauses are often utilized when a statute involves complex implementation, requires significant funding or resources, or when ongoing oversight is required.

Examples of Enabling Clause

  1. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains an enabling clause that empowers state governments to provide special education services to children with disabilities.

  2. The Clean Air Act contains an enabling clause that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to establish and enforce air-pollution standards.

  3. The Affordable Care Act contains an enabling clause that empowers the Department of Health and Human Services to regulate health insurance providers and establish marketplace exchanges.

Legal Terms Similar to Enabling Clause

  1. Delegation of Authority: A legal principle that allows a higher authority to delegate power or responsibility to a lower authority.

  2. Grant-in-Aid: A financial award given by a higher level of government to a lower level of government or organization to fund a specific project or program.

  3. Statutory Construction: The process of interpreting statutes to determine their meaning and scope.