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