Shrinking federal powers.
Twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. ago in his first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan promised a new federalism New Federalism refers to the transfer of certain powers from the United States federal government to the U.S. states. The primary objective of New Federalism is the restoration to the states of some of the autonomy and power which they lost to the federal government as a featuring significant reductions in federal authority and a greater role for state governments. Now five justices appointed to their current positions by Reagan and his successor, George Bush, are making that a reality. In the past five years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time Supreme Court has dramatically shifted course and has imposed significant new limits on federal powers.
From 1937 to 1995, no federal laws were declared unconstitutional for exceeding the scope of Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause. From 1937 to 1992, only one federal law was found to violate the Tenth Amendment The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
, and that case was overruled less than a decade later. Until 1997, the Court broadly defined the scope of congressional power to enact laws enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment Fourteenth Amendment, addition to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 1868. The amendment comprises five sections. Section 1
Section 1 of the amendment declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens and citizens .
All of that has changed. In a series of 5-4 decisions, the Court has sharply restricted federal authority. The most recent case, United States v. Morrison United States v. Morrison, ,(1) narrows the scope of congressional powers under both the Commerce Clause and 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision likely will lead to constitutional challenges to an array of federal laws ranging from environmental to criminal to civil rights statutes. is a United States Supreme Court decision that examined the limits of Congress's power to make laws under the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
Morrison considered whether the civil damages provision of the federal Violence Against Women Act is constitutional.(2) The provision authorizes victims of gender-motivated violence to sue for monetary damages Monetary damages, in civil law, refers to compensation given to an injured party by a liable party. Monetary damages may be restitution, a penalty, or both. .
Congress passed the act based on detailed findings that state laws are inadequate to protect women victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults. For example, Congress found that gender-motivated violence costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars a year and that fear of violence is a substantial constraint on women's freedom to travel.
The case was brought by Christy Brzonkala, who was allegedly raped by football players while a freshman at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The players were not punished either in criminal court or by the university. Brzonkala filed suit against her assailants and the university under the Violence Against Women Act.
The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the civil damages provision of the act could be upheld as an exercise of Congress's authority under either the Commerce Clause or 5. The Court held that Congress lacked the authority to adopt the provision under either of these powers. Chief Justice William Rehnquist Noun 1. William Rehnquist - United States jurist who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1972 until 1986, when he was appointed chief justice (born in 1924)
Rehnquist, William Hubbs Rehnquist wrote the opinion for the Court, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy This article is about the Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. For the Maryland senator, see Anthony Kennedy (Maryland).
Anthony McLeod Kennedy (born July 23, 1936) has been an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1988. , Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26 1930) is an American jurist who served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was considered a strict constructionist. , Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist and has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. He is the second African American to serve on the nation's highest court, after Justice Thurgood Marshall. . Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15 1933, Brooklyn, New York) is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Having spent 13 years as a federal judge, but not being a career jurist, she is unique as a Supreme Court justice, having spent the majority of her career as an , David Souter, and John Paul Stevens John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is currently the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He joined the Court in 1975 and is the oldest and longest serving incumbent member of the Court. dissented.
In 1995, the Supreme Court imposed substantial new limits on Congress's Commerce Clause authority in United States v. Lopez United States v. Lopez, .(3) The Court declared unconstitutional the Gun-Free School Zone Act, a federal law that made it a crime to have a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. The Court held that Congress can regulate under the Commerce Clause in only three areas: was the first United States Supreme Court case since the Great Depression to set limits to Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
* the channels of interstate commerce interstate commerce
In the U.S., any commercial transaction or traffic that crosses state boundaries or that involves more than one state. Government regulation of interstate commerce is founded on the commerce clause of the Constitution (Article I, section 8), which , that is, the places where commerce occurs;
* the instrumentalities of interstate commerce and the people or things involved; and
* the activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
The Supreme Court found that the law prohibiting guns near schools met none of these requirements.
In Morrison, the Court reaffirmed this three-part test and again found that it was not met. The U.S. government and the plaintiff defended the law on the ground that violence against women has a substantial effect on the national economy. But the Supreme Court expressly rejected this argument as insufficient to sustain the statute.
Rehnquist emphasized that Congress was regulating noneconomic activity that has traditionally been dealt with by state laws. Moreover, the Court stressed that there is no jurisdictional requirement in the statute necessitating proof of an effect on interstate commerce.
Although in the legislative history to the law, Congress presented detailed findings about the economic impact of violence against women, the Court said that Congress was relying on a "but-for causal chain from the initial occurrence of violent crime ... to every attenuated Attenuated
Alive but weakened; an attenuated microorganism can no longer produce disease.
Mentioned in: Tuberculin Skin Test
having undergone a process of attenuation. effect upon interstate commerce."(4) The Court also said that "[i]f accepted, petitioners' reasoning would allow Congress to regulate any crime as long as the nationwide, aggregated impact of that crime has substantial effects on employment, production, transit, or consumption."(5)
The Court thus rejected "the argument that Congress may regulate noneconomic, violent criminal conduct based solely on that conduct's aggregated effect on interstate commerce. The Constitution requires a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local."(6)
The Morrison decision means that Congress cannot regulate noneconomic conduct by finding that it has a cumulative effect on interstate commerce.
Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment authorizes Congress to enact laws to enforce the amendment. In City of Boerne v. Flores City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), was a Supreme Court case concerning the scope of Congress's enforcement power under the fifth section of the Fourteenth Amendment. , the Court imposed a significant limit on this power.(7) It held that under the section, Congress may not expand the scope of rights or create new rights; it only may provide remedies for rights recognized by the courts.
In the 1883 Civil Rights Cases, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment was concerned only with government conduct and that Congress could only regulate government behavior under it.(8) However, subsequent decisions clearly indicated that the Court had abandoned this restrictive interpretation, allowing Congress to remedy private violations of rights under [sections]5.(9)
But in Morrison, the Court reaffirmed the Civil Rights Cases, holding Congress may regulate only state and local government conduct; it may not regulate private conduct.(10) The Court rejected the claim that Congress could act to remedy inadequacies in state and local laws protecting rights from private infringements.
Many federal laws--for example, those adopted by Congress under the Commerce Clause--are sure to be objected to based on the narrow definition of Congress's power in Morrison and Lopez. Federal environmental laws, such as the Endangered Species Act The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) (16 U.S.C.A. §§ 1531 et seq.) was enacted to protect animal and plant species from extinction by preserving the ecosystems in which they survive and by providing programs for their conservation. ,(11) are likely to be challenged on the grounds that these laws regulate conduct that does not involve the channels of interstate commerce, the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, or activities with a substantial economic effect.
This term, in Solid Waste Agency v. United States Army Corps of Engineers The United States Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, is a federal agency made up of some 34,600 civilian and 650 military men and women. The Corps's mission is to provide military and civil works engineering services to the United States, including:
Similarly, federal gun laws, such as those prohibiting someone from possessing a firearm while under a domestic violence protection order,(13) and many other federal criminal laws, are also likely to be challenged as exceeding the scope of Commerce Clause authority.
Morrison's limit on [sections] 5 powers will also lead to constitutional challenges to federal statutes. For instance, a federal civil rights law that creates a cause of action against private conspiracies to violate civil rights now seems vulnerable.(14) The Supreme Court has held that the law applies in certain circumstances, such as when there is interference with the right to travel, without a state action requirement.(15) But after Morrison, the law can no longer be justified based on [sections] 5 powers.
How far the Supreme Court will go in limiting Congress's powers is uncertain. But it is clear from Morrison that five justices are committed to enforcing their vision of federalism and limiting the scope of federal authority. Lawyers in almost every area of law will need to deal with Morrison and its implications of a sharply reduced federal regulatory power.
(1.) 120 S. Ct. 1740 (2000).
(2.) Id. at 1745 (considering the constitutionality of 42 U.S.C. [sections] 13981, which provides a federal civil remedy CIVIL REMEDY, practice. This term is used in opposition to the remedy given by indictment in a criminal case, and signifies the remedy which the law gives to the party against the offender.
2. for victims of gender-motivated violence).
(3.) 514 U.S. 549 (1995).
(4.) Morrison, 120 S. Ct. 1740, 1752.
(5.) Id. at 1752-53.
(6.) Id. at 1754.
(7.) 521 U.S. 507 (1997).
(8.) 109 U.S. 3 (1883).
(9.) See, e.g., United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 759 (1966) (stating that Congress, under [sections] 5, may regulate private conduct); see also District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). v. Carter, 409 U.S. 418 (1973).
(10.) 120 S. Ct. 1740, 1756.
(11). 16 U.S.C. [sections] 1538(a)(1)(1994).
(12.) 191 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 1999), cert. granted, 120 S. Ct. 2003 (2000).
(13.) 18 U.S.C. [sections] 922(g)(8).
(14.) 42 U.S.C. [sections] 1985.
(15.) See Guest, 383 U.S. 745.
Morrison makes clear that five justices are committed to limiting the scope of federal authority.
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Erwin Chemerinsky is Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law School The University of Southern California Law School (Gould School of Law), located in Los Angeles, California, is a graduate school within the University of Southern California. .