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Flashcards in Commerce Power Deck (25):

Commerce Clause

Article I, §8: Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce among the several States


Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) J. Marshall

Expansive view of commerce: As long as Congress acts w/in scope of commerce power, not unconstitutional under 10th Amendment.
NY legislature gave monopoly to Ogden in NY. Gibbons operated competing ferry service with federal license. Who wins?



U.S. v. EC Knight Co. (1895) J. Fuller

direct v. indirect effects test

Sherman Act prohibits monopolies in commerce between states. Does this activity have direct or indirect effect on interstate commerce?

Holding: Congress can’t regulate manufacturing. Monopoly here was production of sugar, not in its commerce. Relationship between monopoly and commerce was too indirect to fall under commerce power.


Carter v. Carter Coal (1936) J. Sutherland

production isn’t commerce

Can’t regulate wages b/c labor provisions are part of production, not commerce
BCCA wanted to regulate hours/wages in coal mines.

Holding: Coal Conservation Act is unconstitutional because production is local activity
Only has indirect effect on commerce – not strong enough relation between activity & commerce


Shreveport Rate Case - Texas Railway Co. v. U.S. (1914) J. Hughes

“among the states”

Can Congress regulate intrastate railroad rates, if the rates discriminated against interstate railroads? Yes b/c extends to interstate.

Holding: Congressional authority extends to state carriers b/c there is a “close & substantial relation” to interstate traffic. Congress has legitimate interest in ensuring interstate RR stays in business


Swift v. U.S.

stream of commerce test

Expectation that cattle are likely to cross state lines means they are in stream of commerce.


Sick Chicken Case - Schechter Poultry v. U.S. (1935) J. Hughes

“direct” economic effect

National Industrial Recovery Act, key part of New Deal legislation, authorized Congress to approve codes of fair competition for trade/industry (typically minimum wage, max hours).

Holding: Federal law unconstitutional b/c insufficient “direct” effect on interstate commerce
Law wasn’t regulating transactions in interstate commerce, but operation of business in NY– fed gov’t can’t regulate wages/hours of employees in internal commerce of a state


Railroad Retirement Board v. Alton RR (1935) J. Roberts

Court declared RR Retirement Act unconstitutional - Congress can’t establish compulsory retirement & pension plan b/c not related to interstate commerce (even though RR are part of it)


Child Labor Case – Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) J. Day

zone of activities

Even if activity is interstate commerce and exercised under taxing or spending power, Congress can’t regulate if it intrudes into zone of activities reserved to states.
Challenge to law that barred transportation in interstate commerce of goods produced in factories employing young children.

Holding: Congress can’t intrude on production. Draws distinction between commerce & production – this is about regulating morality, NOT commerce. Law controlled production, even though goods were in interstate commerce.
Gov’t argues that this will impact national market – goods produced w/ child labor less $
Court says that is too far-reaching: States have authority, through police power, to regulate local trade and manufacture


Lottery Case – Champion v. Ames (1903) J. Harlan

national police regulations

Can Congress prohibit transporting lottery tickets across state lines (rather than regulate)? Yes

Holding: Power to regulate commerce includes prohibiting items from being interstate commerce
Lottery tickets are subjects of traffic and therefore subjects of commerce
10th Amendment: Congress can use commerce power to regulate morality (lottery tickets)


Hipolite Egg Co. v. U.S.

police regulations can be w/in commerce

Label of preserved eggs didn’t disclose ingredient. Court held this is w/in commerce, confiscation is appropriate to bar them from interstate commerce


Hoke v. U.S.

Court upheld Mann Act to prohibit women transported interstate.


NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937) CJ. Hughes

new definition of commerce
Intrastate activities can affect interstate → chain of

National Labor Relations Act - employees right to bargain collectively, forbid unfair labor practices

Holding: Court held Act was constitutional b/c it is the effect on commerce, not the source of injury, that must meet criteria of “interstate” commerce

1.)National labor unions have big effect on national commerce

2.)When intrastate activities directly affect interstate activities, falls w/in Congress power – allow employees engaged in production, industry is organized on national scale & thus effect nationally


U.S. v. Darby (1941) J. Stone

radical shift in commerce power

Production is NOT entirely state activity, 10th A not basis to invalidate federal laws
Lumber manufacturer challenges Fair Labor Standards Act, which provides for minimum wages/hours for employees involved in commerce of goods

Holding: Court held act was constitutional as long as w/in scope of Congress’s power. Shipment of manufactured goods interstate is interstate commerce.

Overruled Child Labor Case (Dagenhart) & rejected view that 10th Amend limits Congress’s powers


Wickard v. Fillburn (1942) J. Jackson

solidified new view on commerce clause, “cumulative effects”

Cumulative effects → w/in commerce power

Fillburn challenged AAA quota for wheat production.

Holding: Wheat industry is national problem & regulation of price accomplished by limiting supply. Cumulative effect of home-grown wheat on wheat in national commerce would have substantial effect

Civil Rights Cases: Now using Commerce Clause to address morality in business


Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964) J. Clark

Civil Rights Case

Motel wanted to continue to refuse to rent rooms to African Americans, challenged Civil Rights Act of 1964

Holding: Discrimination burdens interstate commerce, Act applies to hotels

1.) Evidence of effect of discrimination on minorities – impedes ability to travel

2.) If interstate commerce feels the pinch, doesn’t matter how local operation is that applies the squeeze


Katzenbach v. McClung (1964) J. Clark

civil rights case

Small BBQ catering hall won’t serve AA. Purchases almost 50% of food from out of state.

Holding: Act applies to small businesses. Racial discrimination cumulatively has impact on interstate commerce – and can’t travel w/o eating


Perez v. U.S. (1971) J. Douglas

federal criminal law

Law prohibited loan sharking activities.

Holding: Even intrastate loan sharking activities have sufficient effect on interstate commerce. Localities of loan sharking activities may finance national operations.


U.S. v. Lopez (1995) J. Rehnquist

Relationship to interstate commerce can’t be too remote or uncertain.
Gun Free School Zones Act made it illegal to have guns near schools. Lopez, 12th grader, convicted

Holding: Act is unconstitutional. Commerce power applies to: (1) channels of interstate commerce; (2) instrumentalities of interstate commerce even if they come from intrastate; (3) activities that substantially relate to interstate commerce – proper test is substantial relation


United States v. Morrison (2000) J. Rehnquist

violence against women not economic

P filed rape charge under Violence Against Women Act, which holds individuals liable for violent crimes motivated by gender.

Holding: Gender-motivated crimes of violence aren’t economic activity. Further limits substantial effects test so it applies to only economic activities


Gonzales v. Raich (2005) J. Stevens

aggregation effect

Can federal gov’t regulate local production of marijuana? CA law allows it.

Holding: Congress can use its power to intrastate production where it is sold interstate
Q here: is underlying regulation as regulatory scheme appropriate use of Congress’s power? Yes
Extended econ-nonecon distinction so gov’t could aggregate effects to activities that are quintessentially economic


National League of Cities v. Usery (1976) J. Rehnquist – outlier during New Deal period

10th amendment restriction

There are limits to Congress’ power to override state sovereignty. Acts w/in commerce power but not w/in DP clause are invalid.
FLSA extends minimum wage/hours to employees of state/local gov’ts. State challenge it.

Holding: Unconstitutional. While wages for state employees may impact commerce, regulating hours of state/local gov’t employees is reserved to state
Limited application: must be regulating “States as States”


Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1985) J. Blackmun

10th amendment restriction

Holding: Overrules National League of Cities by holding municipal transit authority is subject to FLSA

Unworkable: Decision in that case is unworkable & unelected federal judiciary should not make decisions about which state policies are “integral” so that Congress can’t intrude
Procedural safeguards: States interests are more properly protected by the built-in restraints in the structure of the federal system than by judicially created limitations → states elect president, lobby for funding, etc.


New York v. U.S. (1992) J. O’Connor

anti-commandeering principle

Federal law requires states to dispose of radioactive waste in certain way – 3 incentives: (1) monetary allows them to charge states that don’t comply, (2) states that complied could increase cost of access to sites; (3) states that don’t comply liable for damages

Holding: Unconstitutional for Congress to compel states to adopt regulations – can’t “commandeer” state gov’ts. Violates 10th amendment: can’t make states spend its own $ on federal policy
Regulating interstate disposal is w/in Congress authority, but can’t direct states how to do it intrastate
Different when state can choose to comply w/ regulation or not
Framers: does Congress regulate through state or people? Hamilton says people – don’t want to blur line of political accountability


Printz v. U.S. (1997) J. Scalia

anti-commandeering principle

Brady Act requires states to conduct background check on people wanting to buy guns.

Holding: Law is invalid b/c conscripts state gov’ts. Purports to direct officers to carry out federal regulation.