United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 11 (2000)

Page:   Index   Previous  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  Next



Opinion of the Court

the Commerce Clause's history here; it suffices to say that, in the years since NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S. 1 (1937), Congress has had considerably greater latitude in regulating conduct and transactions under the Commerce Clause than our previous case law permitted. See Lopez, 514 U. S., at 555-556; id., at 573-574 (Kennedy, J., concurring).

Lopez emphasized, however, that even under our modern, expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause, Congress' regulatory authority is not without effective bounds. Id., at 557.

"[E]ven [our] modern-era precedents which have expanded congressional power under the Commerce Clause 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.' " Id., at 556-557 (quoting Jones & Laughlin Steel, supra, at 37).3

As we observed in Lopez, modern Commerce Clause jurisprudence has "identified three broad categories of activity that Congress may regulate under its commerce power."

3 Justice Souter's dissent takes us to task for allegedly abandoning Jones & Laughlin Steel in favor of an inadequate "federalism of some earlier time." Post, at 641-643, 655. As the foregoing language from Jones & Laughlin Steel makes clear however, this Court has always recognized a limit on the commerce power inherent in "our dual system of government." 301 U. S., at 37. It is the dissent's remarkable theory that the commerce power is without judicially enforceable boundaries that disregards the Court's caution in Jones & Laughlin Steel against allowing that power to "effectually obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local." Ibid.

Page:   Index   Previous  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007