United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 22 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 598 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

ings of the Commerce Clause and the scope of federal power that would permit Congress to exercise a police power"), 596-597, and n. 6 (noting that the first Congresses did not enact nationwide punishments for criminal conduct under the Commerce Clause).


Because we conclude that the Commerce Clause does not provide Congress with authority to enact 13981, we address petitioners' alternative argument that the section's civil remedy should be upheld as an exercise of Congress' remedial power under 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. As noted above, Congress expressly invoked the Fourteenth Amendment as a source of authority to enact 13981.

The principles governing an analysis of congressional legislation under 5 are well settled. Section 5 states that Congress may " 'enforce' by 'appropriate legislation' the constitutional guarantee that no State shall deprive any person of 'life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,' nor deny any person 'equal protection of the laws.' " City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, 517 (1997). Section 5 is "a positive grant of legislative power," Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U. S. 641, 651 (1966), that includes authority to "prohibi[t] conduct which is not itself unconstitutional and [to] intrud[e] into 'legislative spheres of autonomy previously reserved to the States.' " Flores, supra, at 518 (quoting Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U. S. 445, 455 (1976)); see also Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, 528 U. S. 62, 81 (2000). However, "[a]s broad as the congressional enforcement power is, it is not unlimited." Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U. S. 112, 128 (1970); see also Kimel, supra, at 81. In fact, as we discuss in detail below, several limitations inherent in 5's text and constitutional context have been recognized since the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.

Petitioners' 5 argument is founded on an assertion that there is pervasive bias in various state justice systems against victims of gender-motivated violence. This asser-


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