United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 23 (1995)

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

Kennedy, J., concurring

Even before the Court committed itself to sustaining federal legislation on broad principles of economic practicality, it found it necessary to depart from these decisions. The Court disavowed E. C. Knight's reliance on the manufacturing-commerce distinction in Standard Oil Co. of N. J. v. United States, 221 U. S. 1, 68-69 (1911), declaring that approach "unsound." The Court likewise rejected the rationale of Adair when it decided, in Texas & New Orleans R. Co. v. Railway Clerks, 281 U. S. 548, 570-571 (1930), that Congress had the power to regulate matters pertaining to the organization of railroad workers.

In another line of cases, the Court addressed Congress' efforts to impede local activities it considered undesirable by prohibiting the interstate movement of some essential element. In the Lottery Case, 188 U. S. 321 (1903), the Court rejected the argument that Congress lacked power to prohibit the interstate movement of lottery tickets because it had power only to regulate, not to prohibit. See also Hipolite Egg Co. v. United States, 220 U. S. 45 (1911); Hoke v. United States, 227 U. S. 308 (1913). In Hammer v. Dagen-hart, 247 U. S. 251 (1918), however, the Court insisted that the power to regulate commerce "is directly the contrary of the assumed right to forbid commerce from moving," id., at 269-270, and struck down a prohibition on the interstate transportation of goods manufactured in violation of child labor laws.

Even while it was experiencing difficulties in finding satisfactory principles in these cases, the Court was pursuing a more sustainable and practical approach in other lines of decisions, particularly those involving the regulation of railroad rates. In the Minnesota Rate Cases, 230 U. S. 352 (1913), the Court upheld a state rate order, but observed that Congress might be empowered to regulate in this area if "by reason of the interblending of the interstate and intrastate operations of interstate carriers" the regulation of interstate rates could not be maintained without restrictions on "intra-


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