United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 13 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

First, we observed that 922(q) was "a criminal statute that by its terms has nothing to do with 'commerce' or any sort of economic enterprise, however broadly one might define those terms." Id., at 561. Reviewing our case law, we noted that "we have upheld a wide variety of congressional Acts regulating intrastate economic activity where we have concluded that the activity substantially affected interstate commerce." Id., at 559. Although we cited only a few examples, including Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942); Hodel, supra; Perez, supra; Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U. S. 294 (1964); and Heart of Atlanta Motel, supra, we stated that the pattern of analysis is clear. Lopez, 514 U. S., at 559-560. "Where economic activity substantially affects interstate commerce, legislation regulating that activity will be sustained." Id., at 560.

Both petitioners and Justice Souter's dissent downplay the role that the economic nature of the regulated activity plays in our Commerce Clause analysis. But a fair reading of Lopez shows that the noneconomic, criminal nature of the conduct at issue was central to our decision in that case. See, e. g., id., at 551 ("The Act [does not] regulat[e] a commercial activity"), 560 ("Even Wickard, which is perhaps the most far reaching example of Commerce Clause authority over intrastate activity, involved economic activity in a way that the possession of a gun in a school zone does not"), 561 ("Section 922(q) is not an essential part of a larger regulation of economic activity"), 566 ("Admittedly, a determination whether an intrastate activity is commercial or noncommercial may in some cases result in legal uncertainty. But, so long as Congress' authority is limited to those powers enumerated in the Constitution, and so long as those enumerated powers are interpreted as having judicially enforceable outer limits, congressional legislation under the Commerce Clause always will engender 'legal uncertainty' "), 567 ("The possession of a gun in a local school zone is in no sense an economic activity that might, through repetition

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