United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 24 (1995)

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Kennedy, J., concurring

state rates which substantially affect the former." Id., at 432-433. And in the Shreveport Rate Cases, 234 U. S. 342 (1914), the Court upheld an Interstate Commerce Commission order fixing railroad rates with the explanation that congressional authority, "extending to these interstate carriers as instruments of interstate commerce, necessarily embraces the right to control their operations in all matters having such a close and substantial relation to interstate traffic that the control is essential or appropriate to the security of that traffic, to the efficiency of the interstate service, and to the maintenance of conditions under which interstate commerce may be conducted upon fair terms and without molestation or hindrance." Id., at 351.

Even the most confined interpretation of "commerce" would embrace transportation between the States, so the rate cases posed much less difficulty for the Court than cases involving manufacture or production. Nevertheless, the Court's recognition of the importance of a practical conception of the commerce power was not altogether confined to the rate cases. In Swift & Co. v. United States, 196 U. S. 375 (1905), the Court upheld the application of federal antitrust law to a combination of meat dealers that occurred in one State but that restrained trade in cattle "sent for sale from a place in one State, with the expectation that they will end their transit . . . in another." Id., at 398. The Court explained that "commerce among the States is not a technical legal conception, but a practical one, drawn from the course of business." Ibid. Chief Justice Taft followed the same approach in upholding federal regulation of stockyards in Stafford v. Wallace, 258 U. S. 495 (1922). Speaking for the Court, he rejected a "nice and technical inquiry," id., at 519, when the local transactions at issue could not "be separated from the movement to which they contribute," id., at 516.

Reluctance of the Court to adopt that approach in all of its cases caused inconsistencies in doctrine to persist, however. In addressing New Deal legislation the Court resuscitated

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