United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 19 (2000)

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616

UNITED STATES v. MORRISON

Opinion of the Court

marriage, divorce, and childrearing on the national economy is undoubtedly significant. Congress may have recognized this specter when it expressly precluded 13981 from being used in the family law context.6 See 42 U. S. C. 13981(e)(4). Under our written Constitution, however, the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.7 See Lopez, supra, at 575-579 (Kennedy, J., concurring); Marbury, 1 Cranch, at 176-178.

6 We are not the first to recognize that the but-for causal chain must have its limits in the Commerce Clause area. In Lopez, 514 U. S., at 567, we quoted Justice Cardozo's concurring opinion in A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U. S. 495 (1935): "There is a view of causation that would obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local in the activities of commerce. Motion at the outer rim is communicated perceptibly, though minutely, to recording instruments at the center. A society such as ours 'is an elastic medium which transmits all tremors throughout its territory; the only question is of their size.' " Id., at 554 (quoting United States v. A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corp., 76 F. 2d 617, 624 (CA2 1935) (L. Hand, J., concurring)).

7 Justice Souter's theory that Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1 (1824), Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U. S. 528 (1985), and the Seventeenth Amendment provide the answer to these cases, see post, at 645-652, is remarkable because it undermines this central principle of our constitutional system. As we have repeatedly noted, the Framers crafted the federal system of Government so that the people's rights would be secured by the division of power. See, e. g., Arizona v. Evans, 514 U. S. 1, 30 (1995) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting); Gregory v. Ash-croft, 501 U. S. 452, 458-459 (1991) (cataloging the benefits of the federal design); Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U. S. 234, 242 (1985) ("The 'constitutionally mandated balance of power' between the States and the Federal Government was adopted by the Framers to ensure the protection of 'our fundamental liberties' ") (quoting Garcia, supra, at 572 (Powell, J., dissenting)). Departing from their parliamentary past, the Framers adopted a written Constitution that further divided authority at the federal level so that the Constitution's provisions would not be defined solely by the political branches nor the scope of legislative power limited only by public opinion and the Legislature's self-restraint. See, e. g., Mar-bury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 176 (1803) (Marshall, C. J.) ("The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written"). It is thus a " 'per-

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