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The Interstate Commerce Clause: How The Supreme Court Interpreted It Over.

2446 words - 10 pages

The Interstate Commerce Clause:How the Supreme Court Interpreted It OverThe Past 200 YearsByDaniel McCarthyProfessor PfeifferBusiness Law 332108 March 2002McCarthy 1Interstate Commerce Clause:How the Supreme Court Interpreted It Over the Past 200 YearsThe Clean Water Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Endanger Species Act are all good legislative acts, but what gave Congress the Constitutional right to pass them? Would you believe the Commerce Clause? "The Congress shall have the power to ... regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States and with the Indian Tribes" (Burke). As important as those powers are, that is a stretch from what the "Framers" had mind. The States were to have majority of legislative power and the powers of the Federal Government, "were to be limited, not general" (Reynolds, 3)."Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce among several States" (United art.1) seems straightforward. If Company A in Columbus, Georgia is selling peaches to Customer B in Phenix City, Alabama, then the Federal Government has some say in how they do it. However, if Company A is also selling peaches to Store C across the street, the Federal Government has no say in how they do that. Now, suppose Company A is having financial problems and decides to fire a tenth of its employees, The employees and their lawyers think its unfair and complain to the Federal Government. Can the Federal Government intervene under the Commerce Clause, and prevent Company A from doing it? The answer should be, of course not. Selling to Customer B in Alabama is interstate commerce, firing employees within the state of Georgia is not commerce, its firing employees.Well some Lawyers and special interest groups make an argument that, if the employees are fired, the Company will not be able harvest quite as many peaches, and so won't be able to sell as many to Customer B in Alabama, and so the Interstate Commerce carried on by these twoMcCarthy 2companies will be affected. Therefore, the Federal Government can regulate the firings under the Commerce Clause.This interpretation is not what the "Framers" of the Constitution had in mind. It would not make much sense for them to take all that trouble of writing out certain powers of the government such as coining money and offering patents for inventions. To see how the Clause has been misconstrued by the Supreme Court over the years to its present interpretation, and how the Congress has strayed so far from the original intent of the "Framers", we have to look at the history of the Interstate Commerce Clause.In 1787, the states were independent and sovereign nations, free to maintain separate armies, print their own currency and raise taxes independently. The Articles of Confederation provided legislative power to Congress, but it lacked proper power essential to a true nationhood. These powers were maintained at the State level. You can just imagine the conflicts that aroused over economic...

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