United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 10 (1995)

Page:   Index   Previous  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  Next



Opinion of the Court

Authority, 469 U. S. 528 (1985). In response to the dissent's warnings that the Court was powerless to enforce the limitations on Congress' commerce powers because "[a]ll activities affecting commerce, even in the minutest degree, [Wickard], may be regulated and controlled by Congress," 392 U. S., at 204 (Douglas, J., dissenting), the Wirtz Court replied that the dissent had misread precedent as "[n]either here nor in Wickard has the Court declared that Congress may use a relatively trivial impact on commerce as an excuse for broad general regulation of state or private activities," id., at 197, n. 27. Rather, "[t]he Court has said only that where a general regulatory statute bears a substantial relation to commerce, the de minimis character of individual instances arising under that statute is of no consequence." Ibid. (first emphasis added).

Consistent with this structure, we have identified three broad categories of activity that Congress may regulate under its commerce power. Perez, supra, at 150; see also Hodel, supra, at 276-277. First, Congress may regulate the use of the channels of interstate commerce. See, e. g., Darby, 312 U. S., at 114; Heart of Atlanta Motel, supra, at 256 (" '[T]he authority of Congress to keep the channels of interstate commerce free from immoral and injurious uses has been frequently sustained, and is no longer open to question' " (quoting Caminetti v. United States, 242 U. S. 470, 491 (1917))). Second, Congress is empowered to regulate and protect the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, or persons or things in interstate commerce, even though the threat may come only from intrastate activities. See, e. g., Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U. S. 342 (1914); Southern R. Co. v. United States, 222 U. S. 20 (1911) (upholding amendments to Safety Appliance Act as applied to vehicles used in intrastate commerce); Perez, supra, at 150 ("[F]or example, the destruction of an aircraft (18 U. S. C. 32), or . . . thefts from interstate shipments (18 U. S. C. 659)"). Finally, Congress' commerce authority includes the power to regulate those ac-

Page:   Index   Previous  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007