United States v. Lopez

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the argument that Congress could regulate social activities merely if they are related to the economic productivity of its citizenry. The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist writing the majority opinion and Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg all dissenting.

The Court invalidated the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which made it a federal offense "for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone."

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the Court:

We start with first principles. The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers. See Art. I, § 8. As James Madison wrote, "the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." The Federalist No. 45, pp. 292-293 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). This constitutionally mandated division of authority "was adopted by the Framers to ensure protection of our fundamental liberties." Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 458, 115 L. Ed. 2d 410, 111 S. Ct. 2395 (1991) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front." Ibid.

United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 552 (1995).

The Court rejected an argument that enhancing “productivity” would justify federal regulation of social activities. The Court rejected this argument in part because that would justify federal regulation of “family law (including marriage, divorce, and child custody),” which the Court would not allow. 514 U.S. at 564.

This decision became the leading precedent for rulings against the federal government in favor of federalism or "states' rights."