Legitimate uses of the federal commerce clause power (1- 2 pages):

Legitimate Uses of the Federal Commerce Clause Power (1- 2 pages):

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Remember that the Federal government is only permitted to act in certain circumstances that are outlined very clearly in the U.S. Constitution. If they do not have the authority to act, the states are responsible for acting instead. As you read this week, the Commerce Clause is one mechanism by which the Federal government can act. Using this clause as the basis of their actions, the government can justify certain potentially intrusive measures that force states and their citizens to comply.

Many interesting Supreme Court decisions address whether the Federal government has the authority to act using the Commerce Clause as its justification. Starting with the New Deal legislation in the early 20th century, the Court has generally deferred to Congress in determining what is and is not within their scope of authority. This changed briefly in the Lopez case in 1995 but has since reverted back to broad discretion.

The Federal government has used its Commerce Clause authority to justify a broad range of issues. You will select one of those issue areas this week and analyze it in the scope of Federalism and assess whether you believe it is a justifiable use of Federal power.

To prepare for this assignment:

  • Review the Supreme Court cases listed in the syllabus for this week. Also review the Reason.com video, Wheat, weed, and ObamaCare: How the Commerce Clause made Congress all-powerful [Video file]. Retrieved from http://reason.com/blog/2010/08/25/wheat-weed-and-obamacare-how-t”. Consider the policy arguments of the Supreme Court justices in these cases.
  • Select one case either from this week’s assignments or from your own research on the Commerce Clause (e.g., you may want to consider the Commerce Clause cases found on the web site www.oyez.com)
  • Review the majority and dissenting opinions in the case and consider the policy arguments used to support the opinions on each side of the debate.


The assignment: (1–2 pages)


  • Briefly describe the case you selected and the issue that it address (i.e., immigration, health care, foreign affairs).
  • Analyze the connection between the action taken by the Federal government and the basis for that action.
  • Provide a reasoned analysis of whether the issue should be part of the Federal regulatory power; whether the court ruled correctly; and whether the Commerce Clause can be connected to this action. Be sure to provide proper sources for your research, including cases, statutes, and law or policy review articles.


Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.

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