Interstate Commerce


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The Court rejected Oklahoma's law that states "own" wildlife and therefore wildlife is not "an article of commerce. Maine v Taylor is a rare example of a Supeme Court decision upholding a state statute that discriminated against out-of-state commerce. The Court accepted the trial court's findings that no non-discriminatory alternatives to Maine's ban on the importation of live baitfish adequately served the state's interest in preventing the introduction into Maine waters of new parasites and non-native fish species that might upset Maine's ecosystems. Dep't of Agriculture's grade to be placed on containers of apples sold in the state.

Washington's State Apple Ass'n contended that the law discriminated against Washington apples which are shipped in containers that include its own tougher state grades. Concluding that a discriminatory effect not a discriminatory intent is all that is necessary to trigger the Baldwin test of a significant state interest and no non-discriminatory alternatives available, the Court invalidated North Carolina's apple-grading law.

In the consolidated cases of Granholm v Heald and Swedenburg v Kelly, involving challenges to Michigan and New York laws respectively, the Supreme Court considered whether the 21st Amendment gave states the power to discriminate against out-of-state liquor distributers in ways that would otherwise clearly violate the Commerce Clause. In its decision, the Supreme Court, on a vote, found that state laws that prohibited out-of-state wineries from selling wine over the Internet directly to consumers violated the Commerce Clause. The four dissenters interpreted Section 2 of the 21st Amendment as giving broad authority to states to ban such sales.

Pacific Co. The case involved a challenge to Arizona's law prohibiting trains from crossing the state that contained more than 70 freight cars.

Control of seafood shipped in interstate commerce.

Southern Pacific complained that the law required them to choose between disassembling at the Arizona border larger trains, making two runs across the state, and then reassembling the trains or avoiding Arizona altogether. Arizona argued the law was a safety measure designed to minimize the risk of "slack action" accidents to which longer trains are susceptible. The Court applied a test that balanced the state's safety interest against what it saw as the very substantial burden the law imposed on interstate commerce.

The law was struck down. The same test was used in to strike down an Illinois law requiring trucks to have contoured rear fender mudguards rather than the straight mud guard flaps required by most other states Bibb v Navajo Freight and in to invalidate a Wisconsin law that limited truck length to 55 feet at a time when most long haul truck lines had gone to 65 foot trucks Raymond Motor Transportation v Rice. Oneida-Herkimer's solid waste management facility. In United Haulers Assoc. Justice Roberts, writing for the Court, concluded that the law not discriminatory because it did not favor a private in-state trash facility, but rather a government-owned facility, and therein lies a constitutional difference.

The burden of the "flow control" law, in the form of more expensive trash service, falls on in-state residents and could not be seen as an attempt to shift costs to out-of-state businesses. Because the law was deemed non-discriminatory, the Court applied its balancing test and found that the local benefits of the law effective financing of waste disposal and increased recycling outweighed the abstract harm on out-of-state businesses of removing waste processing services from the national marketplace.

Our last two cases deal with the "market participant" exception to Commerce Clause analysis. Concluding that South Dakota was acting as a market participant rather than as a regulator of commerce, the Court upheld the state's preference for in-state customers. Reeves was distinguished in S outh-Central Timber Development Inc v Wunnicke , which invalidated Alaska's policy of insisting that high-bidders on state-owned timber agree to process some of the timber they purchased at Alaskan sawmills. The Court saw the bidding rules as an attempt to control commerce "down the stream," and that therefore the state was acting as a regulator, not as a mere market participant.

Interstate Commerce Clause

Seelig Inc. South Dakota's preference for in-state buyers of cement from this plant was challenged in Reeves v State Southern Pacific train. The company successfully challenged New York's denial of its license to distribute milk collected in New York to Boston. Which interpretation of the Commerce Clause outlined in the introduction makes the most sense?

Was the Pennsylvania pilotage law involved in Cooley more likely enacted for safety reasons or for protectionist reasons? If, as the Court said in Marbury , it's the Supreme Court's job to say what the Constitution means, why should the Court defer to Congress when it comes to defining the reach of state power to regulate commerce? Once again, the Court was presented with a Congressional attempt to criminalize traditional local criminal conduct.

As in Lopez , it could not be argued that State regulation alone would be ineffective to protect the aggregate effects of local violence. The Court explained that in both Lopez and Morrison "the noneconomic, criminal nature of the conduct at issue was central to our decision. In both cases, Congress criminalized activity that was not commercial in nature without including a jurisdictional element establishing the necessary connection between the criminalized activity and Interstate Commerce. The Court found in Seminole Tribe v. Florida , U. The outer limits of that doctrine were delineated by Gonzales v.

Raich , in which Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy departed from their previous positions as parts of the Lopez and Morrison majorities to uphold a federal law regarding marijuana. The Court found the federal law valid, although the marijuana in question had been grown and consumed within a single state, and had never entered Interstate Commerce.

The court held Congress may regulate an intrastate economic good if it does so as part of a complete scheme of legislation designed to regulate Interstate Commerce. During the Rehnquist court and to present, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution has played an integral part in the Court's view of the Commerce Clause. The Tenth Amendment states that the federal government has only the powers specifically delegated to it by the Constitution while other powers are reserved to the states, or to the people.

The Commerce Clause is an important source of those powers delegated to Congress, and therefore its interpretation is very important in determining the scope of federal power in controlling innumerable aspects of American life. The Commerce Clause has been the most broadly interpreted clause in the Constitution, making way for many laws which, some argue, contradict the original intended meaning of the Constitution.

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Justice Clarence Thomas has gone so far as to state in his dissent to Gonzales ,. Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything — and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers. The evolving level of scrutiny applied by Federal courts to Commerce Clause cases should be considered in the context of rational basis review.

The idea behind rational basis review is that the judiciary must show deference to the elected representatives of the people. A respect for the democratic process requires that the Courts uphold legislation if there are rational facts and reasons that could support Congressional judgment, even if the Justices would come to different conclusions. Throughout the 20th century, in a variety of contexts, courts sought to avoid second guessing the legislative branch, and Commerce Clause jurisprudence can be seen as a part of this trend. Lawrence Tribe states:. Such findings have been upheld whenever they could be said to rest upon some rational basis.

Justice Rehnquist echoed this point in his opinion in United States v. Lopez , stating: "Since [ Wickard ], the Court has See, e.

Interstate Commerce Act of 1887

Rational basis review begins with establishing the factual predicate upon which the exercise of Congressional power is based. This factual basis might come from a variety of sources. It might come from factual determinations made by Congress, passed in the legislation itself, or found in the Congressional Reports issued to accompany the legislation. It might come from the record of testimony compiled in Committee Hearings. It might come from facts posited by proponents in their briefs in support of the legislation. For example, the Court referenced extensive testimony presented in hearings in support of the conclusion that discrimination in public accommodations reduces interstate commerce.

The Court wrote:. Of course, the mere fact that Congress has said when particular activity shall be deemed to affect commerce does not preclude further examination by this Court. But where we find that the legislators, in light of the facts and testimony before them, have a rational basis for finding a chosen regulatory scheme necessary to the protection of commerce, our investigation is at an end. Similarly, in Gonzales v. Raich the Court upheld a ban on growing marijuana intended for medical use on the grounds that Congress could rationally conclude that such cultivation might make enforcement of drug laws more difficult by creating an otherwise lawful source of marijuana that could be diverted into the illicit market:.

In assessing the scope of Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause, we stress that the task before us is a modest one. We need not determine whether respondents' activities, taken in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce in fact, but only whether a "rational basis" exists for so concluding. Given the enforcement difficulties that attend distinguishing between marijuana cultivated locally and marijuana grown elsewhere, 21 U. Since its decision in Gibbons , the Supreme Court has held that Congress may regulate only those activities within a state that arise out of or are connected with a commercial transaction and that, viewed in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce.

Since judicial interpretations of constitutional limitations on Congressional exercise of its Commerce Clause powers represent an invasion of the democratic process which may not be overturned through ordinary democratic means, the Court has continued to assert that the primary limitation on the unwise exercise of Congressional Commerce Clause power by Congress must be found at the ballot box. Thus in Garcia v. Of course, we continue to recognize that the States occupy a special and specific position in our constitutional system and that the scope of Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause must reflect that position.

But the principal and basic limit on the federal commerce power is that inherent in all congressional action—the built-in restraints that our system provides through state participation in federal governmental action. The political process ensures that laws that unduly burden the States will not be promulgated. The debate centers around whether Congress is authorized to require citizens to purchase health insurance from the private market, known as the individual mandate. Congress claims authority from the Commerce Clause.

However, many opponents of the PPACA have claimed that the individual mandate exceeds Congress's authority thereunder, primarily on the position that the law attempts to define the non-purchase of insurance as "commerce". Twenty-six state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming the insurance mandate is unconstitutional.


  • Moonlight on the Mersey: A compelling saga of intrigue, romance and family secrets?
  • Letters and Testimony.
  • 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Interstate Commerce.

On June 8, , a panel of three judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta held hearings on the issue. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Individual Mandate portion unconstitutional, stating that Congress had exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage. Differing court opinions have clashed over the question of whether failure to purchase insurance can be considered an economic activity that affects interstate commerce.

In Virginia v. Sebelius , Judge Henry Hudson overturned the law, claiming that failure to purchase health insurance coverage could not be considered economic activity, being rather economic "inactivity". In Liberty University v. Geithner , Judge Norman Moon upheld the law, countering:. Far from 'inactivity,' by choosing to forgo insurance, Plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance.

Similarly, in Thomas More Law Center v. Obama , judge George Steeh ruled that such decisions have "a documented impact on interstate commerce.

In response to the Virginia decision, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the appeal immediately, rather than going through the Fourth Circuit. On November 14, , the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case in the spring of Its majority opinion agreed that upholding the PPACA under the commerce clause "would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority" and that "the power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Dormant Commerce Clause. Main article: Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of Lopez, U. National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on March 4, Retrieved March 7, Raich, US 1 ". Raich et al. Argued November 29, -- Decided June 6, ". Archived from the original on October 11, Archived from the original on October 18, Retrieved September 6, Abstracted from the folio ed. To which is prefixed, A grammar of the English language".


  1. Interstate Commerce Commission.
  2. Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Staning Committee.
  3. Strawheart.
  4. Retrieved May 1, — via Google Books. Tribe, American Constitutional Law 2d ed. Carter Coal Co. Archived from the original on December 3, Cornell University Law School ". Archived from the original on July 9, Filburn Cornell University Law School ". Corey —turnabout is fair play? Under a regime of federal rivalry, competition for voters, taxpayers, and industries forces states to be accountable to those they govern and innovative in their search for solutions to vexing problems. If a state finds a cheaper, more efficient way to solve a policy conundrum, people and businesses will flock to it.

    But if states can impose the costs of their regulatory regimes on their neighbors, they could blunt this competitive effect.

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