General Welfare Clause Law & Legal Definition


General welfare clause refers to a clause in the U.S. Constitution that empowers Congress to levy taxes and pay debts for the general welfare of the country. This clause is referred under USCS Const. Art. I, 8, Cl 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The provisions of the section reads as follows: "Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

The U. S. Supreme Court first interpreted the clause in United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (U.S. 1936). The court in this case held that the general welfare language in the taxing-and-spending clause constituted a separate grant of power to Congress to spend in areas over which it was not granted direct regulatory control.