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Police Power Explained

Police Power

Police power is representative of the way in which individual states may regulate citizen and non-citizen behavior and conduct. It proceeds with the express purpose of ensuring that the public's welfare is maintained, as well as its general health and safety.

State constitutions usually provide the limitations by which police power is instituted. It stems all the way back to the feudal systems of Europe. The exhibition of police power may be seen in a number of ways. These include: the creation of laws and the imposing of these laws by physical force or other such procedures.

Conflicts that usually arise as a result of the existence of police power are those which concern the beliefs that such physical force may not actually be in legal concurrence within the realm of the United States Constitution. Federal courts are usually confronted with issues of civil liberties which come into question, presenting serious consequences in relation to the institution of police power.

In accordance with Nineteenth Century legislation, Federal courts ruled that despite the overseeing powers of the Federal Government, states possessed sole control over the handling of police power. This system works to deal with situations such as that concerning property considerations, public health issues, laws concerning heinous crimes, as well as various other aspects of law.

This may be seen as is exhibited within the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This Amendment states that powers not assigned to the Federal Government are to be left to that of the State as well as the general public. Police powers are that which are set forth in accordance with State constitutions having precedence, but also with some limitations.

One such case is that of Lawrence v. Texas. In this Supreme Court case, Federal courts stated that "intimate" situations not be subject to police power aside from if it presented harm in relation to the health and overall safety of those involved. A case that demonstrated how local authorities may abuse their power includes that of Mahony v. Township. This involved the township instituting "zoning ordinances," which then were deemed an illegal use of police power. This was due to the fact that a complete barring of private gas wells was seen as without real reasoning since it had no actual effect over concerns such as the health, safety, and welfare of the whole town. This case example shows just how even a system of police power may also go too far regardless of its legal intent.

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