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The Commerce Clause-Federalist No. 51

In looking at the Federalist No. 51 and Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 in the U.S. Constitution, we recognize immediately that there is a duality in American government. This duality encompasses the dilemma of states’ rights versus federal rights of the national government. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 is also known as the “commerce clause”, a clause which permits Congress to “regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes” (Commerce 1). Yet, the Constitution is constantly open for interpretation by whichever group of judges presides over the nation’s highest court. In 1824 the Supreme Court found in Gibbons v. Ogden that a broad definition of interstate commerce was intended by the framers of the Constitution. Yet, this decision did allow for the federal government to exercise control over state commerce if the state was guilty of violating the dormant character of the Commerce Clause, “Where state legislation resembles regulation of interstate commerce, or is discriminatory in effect, the State may have violated the dormant nature of the Commerce Clause which by its mere presence in the Constitution grants exclusive power over regulation to Congress” (Commerce 1). Ever since this time the federal government has been at odds with itself and with the states regarding the regulation of interstate commerce.

During the years before Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Court controlled commerce legislation. However, it was a period of Dual Federalism in which the Supreme Court remained suspicious of Congressional attempts to regulate state commerce. As such, it made narrow, case-by-case decisions on whether Congress was acting in line with its rights or if it was pursuing an agenda of its own. Even though McCullough v. Maryland held that the Court would not investigate into the commerce of states if the ends were legitimate and the means chosen to achieve them were s...

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The Commerce Clause-Federalist No. 51. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 05:49, February 20, 2017, from