Hello again everyone!
After a very long hiatus where I think I passed all my finals and such, I am now finally back and ready to finish this giant project I started back in the day called Teh Commerz Clawz, where I explain the precedent to the states’ challenge to the health care bill in super simple speak. Also with lolcats.
I have to admit I almost dropped this project. But then a Virginia judge ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the federal government is quite possibly overstepping their Commerz Clawz boundaries. So I decided a) quitting is for quitters, and b) this is honestly too much fun to stop now.
When we left off, we were talking about the end of a “stream of commerce.” In Swift and Co., the court came up with the idea of the stream of commerce doctrine. If something is part of this stream of commerce, even if it seems like intrastate commerce, Congress can regulate it. In Schechter, the court decided that once things, even sick chickz, quit moving, they’re no longer part of the stream of commerce. In Carter, the Court decides where the stream of commerz starts.
So, if you remember, the Court and Roosevelt were embroiled in a royal battle of laissez-faire economics vs. (in my opinion) needed common sense. The Court kept striking down New Deal packages, which made Roosevelt and most of the starving country pretty mad, but was pretty awesome for big business.
Right after Schechter, Roosevelt passed the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act, which established a commission to watch over the coal industry. It was paid for with a mine tax, and if the mines complied, they got 90% of the tax waived. Carter challenged this, suing his own company to say they shouldn’t pay the tax because the law was a violation of Teh Commerz Clawz.
Carter: This tax iz unconztitushunal. ‘Member Knight? Manufacshuring iz not commerz! This iz 4 da states onli, not 4 teh federal government. Iz not a direct effect, onli an indirect one. U said so alreadyz!
US govt: No! Iz not! We iz not onli regulating coal manufacshuring, but labor too. Wages r important, and big busness onli cares cuz they can haz moar monies when they don’t pay workers good. This law allows 4 unions and wage negotiations, and this directly affects commerz. Besides, if there iz doubt about if something iz commerz or not, teh Court should rule for us, not against us.
Teh Court was pretty split, but in the end the 4 Horsemen plus Juztice Roberts ruled for Carter. A 1930s lol-scribe shall explain.
Lol-scribe: “We haz already told u in Knight dat manufacshuring iz not commerz. Coal iz not interstate commerz, because it haz not started moving yet. Just cuz somethin will evenshually be sold, does not maek it commerz nao. Teh coal has not entered teh streem of commerz, but instead iz at the head, before it begins.”
US Govt: That’s not all we iz doing, tho! Unfair wages affect commerz lotz. When ppl don’t get paid fair, then teh company can haz lower prices, and that affects interstate commerz. So iz commerz after all.”
Lol-scribe: “Nope. U iz wrong. Iz all interstate commerz. Juztice Sutherland saiz “Working conditions are obviously local conditions…Such effect as they may have on commerce, however extensive it may be, is secondary and indirect.” Teh onli difference between this case and teh sick chickz case iz that while one was after teh streem ended, this one iz be4 it begins. U still lose.”
So now we know. There is a start and an end to the stream of commerce. Also, anything that only indirectly affects commerce doesn’t count. It has to be obviously in transit between states to be interstate commerce, or be such a big part of it that it doesn’t matter if the transaction was intrastate.
But, you’re saying, that can’t be right! Teh Commerz Clawz is now used to regulate things like medical marijuana within a state. It’s used for tons and tons of things! What happened?
Stay tuned for Jones and Laughlin Steel, coming soon, and find out exactly how President Roosevelt convinced the Court it was time to stop making the Great Depression worse… (Also, we’re only a few cases away from explaining enough precedent to understand this health care bill challenge! Its proof of how much of a geek I am that I’m almost sad to be getting close to the end.)
Also, all old lol-cats were created by a guy named Harry Whittier Frees, who was actually pretty cool. Check it out.