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Kaplan University LS 500 Unit 8 Town Hall. John Gray. Welcome! Are there any questions as we begin? Today our focus is on the Commerce Clause and its usage to address issues of segregation.

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Presentation Transcript
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Welcome!

Are there any questions as we begin?

Today our focus is on the Commerce Clause and its usage to address issues of segregation.

The Commerce Clause refers to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

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The Commerce Clause has historically been viewed as both a grant of congressional authority and also as a restriction on states’ powers to regulate.

The “dormant” Commerce Clause refers to the prohibition, implied in the Commerce Clause, against states passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce. 

The meaning of the word "commerce" is a source of much of the controversy. 

What is commerce? Does it only involve transactions that occur between parties of different states?

Or, has it been more broadly interpreted and applied?

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The Supreme Court ruled that the power to regulate interstate commerce encompassed the power to regulate interstate navigation. Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824).

In 1905, the Court used the Commerce Clause to halt price fixing in the Chicago meat industry, when it ruled that Congress had authority to regulate the local meat market under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

So, federal law can regulate matters that are local in character.

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The Supreme Court found that Congress had the authority to regulate a business that served mostly interstate travelers in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. 379 U.S. 241 (1964).

It ruled that the federal civil rights legislation could be used to regulate a restaurant, Ollie’s Barbeque, a family-owned restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama because, although most of Ollie’s customers were local, the restaurant served food which had previously crossed state lines. Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 274 (1964).

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0379_0294_ZO.html See this link to the Ollie’s Barbeque case.

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http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1954/1954_1

Here is the oyez link to the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas of 1954.

This case overruled the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, a U.S. Supreme Court case from 1896.

Federal application of civil rights laws influences what states seek to do.

The commerce clause today is very broadly interpreted.

Practically any transaction is interstate commerce and that implicates the commerce clause.

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http://www.lawnix.com/cases/wickard-filburn.html

Consider the case above, a U.S. Supreme Court case from 1942.

Is this interstate commerce?

The court said it was.

Just about anything that might have an impact on interstate commerce is considered to be interstate commerce today.

What are some implications of this position of Constitutional interpretation?