“We start with first principles…As James Madison wrote,‘[t]he 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.”
—Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
United States v. Lopez
Americans have debated the balance of power between the federal government and the states since 1787.
Today the Supreme Court struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act, arguing that the matter should rest with the states.
For the first time since 1937, the Court has said Congress exceeded its power to use the Constitution’s commerce clause to regulate private behavior.
The Act, said Chief Justice Rehnquist, has nothing to do with “any sort of economic enterprise.”
The balance may be tipping toward the states again.