Federalism and the Interstate Commerce Clause

Memo paper
January 14, 2021
Outline of Treatment Approaches (BSHS/455) |
January 14, 2021

Examine the growth of the federal government through the courts.

One of the principal avenues of federal government growth has been the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause was originally intended to prevent discrimination by states against exports from other states and countries. However, it has served as the legal basis for a variety of legislation that some critics have suggested is a misinterpretation of this original intent.

Many cases have been brought to challenge the use of the clause to regulate private activity within the states. The vast majority of these cases have found in favor of the federal government’s use of that clause to support their initiatives.

For this Assignment, consider the New Deal legislation of the early 20th century, which led to the creation of a number of social programs, most based upon the Commerce Clause, as an example.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Locate and review a U.S. Supreme Court decision addressing the Interstate Commerce Clause (Hint: You can find cases organized by topic at the Oyez Project website: www.oyez.org)

Research law review articles or other secondary sources that analyze the opinion that you selected.

Consider whether you believe the court properly ruled in supporting or critiquing the use of the Interstate Commerce Clause in this instance.

Be sure to consider how this case expands or contracts the clause power.

Select a recent issue that could or has resulted in a federalism case.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 3 a current event that could or has recently resulted in a federalism case related to the Interstate Commerce Clause. Then, explain the likely outcome in court, based on this week’s Learning Resources. Cite a case to support your response.


Fandl, K. J. (2015). Putting states out of the immigration law enforcement business. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 9, 529–552. Retrieved from http://harvardlpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/9…

Fandl, K. J. (2016). States’ rights and refugee resettlement. Texas International Law Journal, 52, 1–31. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id…


Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824).

Brown v. Maryland, 25 U.S. 419 (1827)

West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937)

Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)

Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964)

United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995)

King v. Burwell, 576 U.S. ___ (2015).


Use the LexisNexis Academic database, and search using the citation number on the Federal & State Cases page of the Legal tab for these cases.

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