United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 9 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 549 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

confirm that this power is subject to outer limits. In Jones & Laughlin Steel, the Court warned that the scope of the interstate commerce power "must be considered in the light of our dual system of government and may not be extended so as to embrace effects upon interstate commerce so indirect and remote that to embrace them, in view of our complex society, would effectually obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local and create a completely centralized government." 301 U. S., at 37; see also Darby, supra, at 119-120 (Congress may regulate intrastate activity that has a "substantial effect" on interstate commerce); Wickard, supra, at 125 (Congress may regulate activity that "exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce"). Since that time, the Court has heeded that warning and undertaken to decide whether a rational basis existed for concluding that a regulated activity sufficiently affected interstate commerce. See, e. g., Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U. S. 264, 276-280 (1981); Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146, 155-156 (1971); Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U. S. 294, 299-301 (1964); Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U. S. 241, 252-253 (1964).2

Similarly, in Maryland v. Wirtz, 392 U. S. 183 (1968), the Court reaffirmed that "the power to regulate commerce, though broad indeed, has limits" that "[t]he Court has ample power" to enforce. Id., at 196, overruled on other grounds, National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U. S. 833 (1976), overruled by Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit

2 See also Hodel, 452 U. S., at 311 ("[S]imply because Congress may conclude that a particular activity substantially affects interstate commerce does not necessarily make it so") (Rehnquist, J., concurring in judgment); Heart of Atlanta Motel, 379 U. S., at 273 ("[W]hether particular operations affect interstate commerce sufficiently to come under the constitutional power of Congress to regulate them is ultimately a judicial rather than a legislative question, and can be settled finally only by this Court") (Black, J., concurring).


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