Interstate Commerce Act Of 1887

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Interstate Commerce Act Of 1887



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US Economic History 2 — Interstate Commerce \u0026 the Constitution

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However, that right must be exercised in a manner that does not interfere with, or place a burden on, interstate commerce, or else Congress may regulate that area of domestic commerce in order to protect interstate commerce from the unreasonable burden. Although a state may not directly regulate, prohibit, or burden interstate or foreign commerce, it may incidentally and indirectly affect it by a bona fide, legitimate, and reasonable exercise of its police powers. States are powerless to regulate commerce with Indian tribes. Although Congress has the exclusive power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce, the presence or absence of congressional action determines whether a state may act in a particular field.

The nature of the subject of commerce must be examined in order to decide whether Congress has exclusive control over it. If the subject is national in character and importance, thereby requiring uniform regulation, the power of Congress to regulate it is plenary, or exclusive. It is for the courts to decide the national or local character of the subject of regulation, by Balancing the national interest against the State Interest in the subject. If the state interest is slight compared with the national interest, the courts will declare the state statute unconstitutional as an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

The U. Supreme Court, in the case of Southern Pacific Co. Arizona , U. The purpose of the legislation, deemed a safety measure, was to minimize accidents by reducing the lengths of trains passing through the state. Practically speaking, however, the statute created an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce, as trains entering and leaving the state had to stop at the borders to break up a car freight train into two trains and to put on additional crews, thus increasing their operating costs. The Court held that the means used to achieve safety was unrealistic and that the increase in the number of trains and train operators actually enhanced the likelihood of accidents. It balanced the national interest in the free flow of interstate commerce by a national railway system, against the state interest of a dubious safety measure.

It decided that the value of the operation of a uniform, efficient railway system significantly outweighed that of a state law that has minimal effect. However, where there is an obvious compelling state interest to protect, state regulations are constitutional. Restrictions on the width and weight of trucks passing through a state on its highways are valid, because the state, pursuant to its police power, has a legitimate interest in protecting its roads. Where the subject is one in which Congress or the state may act, a state may legislate unless Congress does so.

Thereafter, a valid federal regulation of the subject supersedes conflicting state legislative enactments and decisions and actions of state judicial or administrative bodies. If Congress has clearly demonstrated its intent to regulate the entire field, then the state is powerless to enact subsequent legislation even if no conflict exists between state and federal law. This type of congressional action is known as federal Preemption of the field. Extensive federal regulation in a particular area does not necessarily result in federal preemption of the field. In determining whether a state may regulate a given field, a court evaluates the purpose of the federal regulations and the obligations imposed, the history of state regulation in the field, and the Legislative History of the state statute.

If Congress has not preempted the field, then state law is valid, provided that it is consistent with, or supplements, the federal law. State health, sanitary, and quarantine laws that interfere with foreign and interstate commerce no more than is necessary in the proper exercise of the state's police power are also valid as long as they do not conflict with federal regulations on the subject. Such laws must have some real relation to the objects named in them, in order to be upheld as valid exercises of the police power of the state.

A state may not go beyond what is essential for self-protection by interfering with interstate transportation into or through its territory. A state may not burden interstate commerce by discriminating against it or persons engaged in it or the citizens or property originating in another state. However, the regulation of interstate commerce need not be uniform throughout the United States. Congress may devise a national policy with due regard for varying and fluctuating interests of different regions. Whether any transaction constitutes interstate or intrastate commerce depends on the essential character of what is done and the surrounding circumstances.

The courts take a commonsense approach in examining the established course of business in order to distinguish where interstate commerce ends and local commerce begins. If activities that are intrastate in character have such a substantial effect on interstate commerce that their control is essential to protect commerce from being burdened, Congress may not be denied the power to exercise that control. In , for the first time in nearly 60 years, the U. Supreme Court held that Congress had exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce.

In United States v. Lopez , U. In reaching its decision, the Court took the various tests used throughout the history of the Commerce Clause to determine whether a federal statute is constitutional, and incorporated them into a new standard that specifies three categories of activity that Congress may regulate under the clause: 1 the channels of interstate commerce, 2 persons or things in interstate commerce or instrumentalities of interstate commerce, and 3 activities that have "a substantial relation to interstate commerce … i.

But the Court noted that the act was a criminal statute that had nothing to do with commerce and that it did not establish any jurisdictional authority to distinguish it from similar state regulations. Because the statute did not "substantially affect interstate commerce," according to the Court, it went beyond the scope of the Commerce Clause and was an unconstitutional exercise of Congress's legislative power. The Court stressed that federal authority to regulate interstate commerce cannot be extended to the point that it obliterates the distinction between what is national and what is local and creates a completely centralized government. Although recognizing the great breadth of congressional regulatory authority, the Court in Lopez attempted to create a special protection for the states by providing for heightened scrutiny of federal legislation that regulates areas of traditional concern to the states.

In a novel application of the Commerce Clause, a federal court decided in United States v. Bishop Processing Co. The defendant plant owners argued, among other contentions, that Congress was powerless to regulate their business because it was clearly an intrastate activity. The court disagreed. Foul-smelling air Pollution adversely affects business conditions, depresses property values, and impedes industrial development.

These factors interfere with interstate commerce, thereby bringing the plant within the scope of the provisions of the federal air-pollution law. The power of Congress to regulate commerce also extends to contracts that substantially relate to interstate commerce. For example, Congress may regulate the rights and liabilities of employers and employees, as labor disputes adversely affect the free flow of commerce. Otherwise, contracts that do not involve any property or activities that move in interstate commerce are not ordinarily part of interstate commerce.

Congress acts within its power when it regulates transportation across state lines. The essential nature of the transportation determines its character. Transportation that begins and ends within a single state is intrastate commerce and is generally not within the scope of the Commerce Clause. If part of the journey passes through an adjoining state, then the transportation is interstate commerce, as long as the travel across state lines is not done solely to avoid state regulation.

Commerce begins with the physical transport of the product or person and ends when either reaches the destination. Every aspect of a continuous passage from a point in one state to a point in another state is a transaction of interstate commerce. A temporary pause in transportation does not automatically deprive a shipment of its interstate character. For a sale of goods to constitute interstate commerce, interstate transportation must be involved. Once goods have arrived in one state from another state, their local sale is not interstate commerce. Interstate commerce also includes the transmission of intelligence and information—whether by telephone, telegraph, radio, television, or mail—across state lines. The transmission of a message between points within the same state is subject to state regulation.

Congress, acting pursuant to the Commerce Clause, has the exclusive power to regulate the agencies and instrumentalities of interstate and foreign commerce, such as private and common carriers. A bridge is an instrumentality of interstate commerce when it spans Navigable Waters or is used by travelers and merchandise passing across state lines. Navigable waters are instrumentalities of commerce that are subject to the control of federal and state legislation. A bridge over a navigable stream located in a single state is also subject to concurrent control by the state.

An office used in an interstate business is an instrumentality of interstate commerce. Railroads and tracks, terminals, switches, cars, engines, appliances, equipment used as components of a system engaged in interstate traffic, and vessels including ferries and tugs are also subject to federal regulation. Warehouses, grain elevators, and other storage facilities also might be considered instrumentalities of interstate commerce. Although local in nature, wharves are related to commerce and are subject to control by Congress, or by the state if Congress has not acted.

The Interstate Commerce Act of , which Congress enacted to promote and facilitate commerce by ensuring equitable interaction between carriers and the public, provided for the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. As designated by statute, the commission had jurisdiction and supervision of such carriers and modes of transportation as railroads, express-delivery companies, and sleepingcar companies. Concerning the transportation of persons and property, the commission had the power to enforce the statutory requirement that a certificate of public convenience and necessity be obtained before commencing or terminating a particular transportation service. The commission adopted reasonable and lawful rules and regulations to implement the policies of the law that it administered.

Not every private enterprise that is carried on chiefly or in part by means of interstate shipments is necessarily so related to the interstate commerce as to come within the regulating power of Congress. The original construction of a factory building does not constitute interstate commerce, even though the factory is used after its construction for the manufacture of goods that are to be shipped in interstate commerce and even though a substantial part of the material used in the building was purchased in different states and transported in interstate commerce to the location of the plant.

Under some circumstances, however, businesses—such as advertising firms, hotels, restaurants, companies that engage in the leasing of Personal Property , and companies in the entertainment and sports industries—may be regulated by the federal government. A business that operates primarily intrastate activities, such as local sporting or theatrical exhibits, but makes a substantial use of the channels of interstate trade, develops an interstate character, thereby bringing itself within the ambit of the Commerce Clause. A state has the power to regulate intrastate commerce in a field where Congress has not chosen to legislate, as long as there is no injustice or unreasonable discrimination in favor of intrastate commerce as against interstate commerce.

In a Colorado case, out-of-state students at the University of Colorado sued the state Board of Regents to recover the higher costs of the tuition paid by them as compared to tuition paid by in-state residents. They contended that their classification as out-of-state students—which violated, among other things, the Commerce Clause—constituted unreasonable discrimination in favor of in-state students. The court held that the statutes that classified students who apply for admission to the state university into in-state and out-of-state students did not violate the Commerce Clause because the classification was reasonable.

A state statute affecting interstate commerce is not upheld merely because it applies equally to, and does not discriminate between, residents and nonresidents of the state, as it can otherwise unduly burden interstate commerce. Discrimination must be more than merely burdensome; it must be unduly or unreasonably burdensome. One state required a licensed foreign corporation with retail stores in the state to collect a state sales tax on the sales it made from its mail-order houses located outside the state to customers within the state.

The corporation contended that this statute discriminated against its operations in interstate commerce. Other out-of-state mail-order houses that were not licensed as foreign corporations in the state did not have to collect tax on their sales within the state. The court decided that the state could impose this burden of tax collection on the corporation because the corporation was licensed to do business in the state and it enjoyed the benefits flowing from its state business. Such a measure was not an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. A state may not prohibit the entry of a foreign corporation into its territory for the purpose of engaging in foreign or interstate commerce, nor can it impose conditions or restrictions on the conduct of foreign or interstate business by such corporations.

When intrastate business is involved, it may do so. Similarly, a private person who conducts a business that has a significant effect on interstate commerce in a discriminatory manner is not beyond the reach of lawful congressional regulation. In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States , U. He argued that since his motel was a purely local operation, Congress exceeded its authority in legislating as to whom he should accept as guests.

Supreme Court held that the authority of Congress to promote interstate commerce encompasses the power to regulate local activities of interstate commerce, in both the state of origin and the state of destination, when those activities would otherwise have a substantial and harmful effect upon the interstate commerce. The Court concluded that in this case, the federal prohibition of racial discrimination by motels serving travelers was valid, as interstate travel by blacks was unduly burdened by the established discriminatory conduct.

In September and October , the drug Elixir Sulfanilamide caused the deaths of more than people across 15 states. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of defined a series of prohibited acts under the law and established penalties for violations of the law. The following is a partial list of acts prohibited under the law: [5]. The law established the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services at the time of the law's enactment, the Secretary of Agriculture to define and establish quality standards for food: [6].

The law defined adulterated drugs and medical devices , misbranded drugs and medical devices , adulterated cosmetics , and misbranded cosmetics. The law established the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services at the time of the law's enactment, the Secretary of Agriculture to "promulgate regulations for the efficient enforcement" of the law. Below is a partial list of subsequent laws that amended provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of [11]. Ballotpedia features , encyclopedic articles written and curated by our professional staff of editors, writers, and researchers. Click here to contact our editorial staff, and click here to report an error. Click here to contact us for media inquiries, and please donate here to support our continued expansion.

Share this page Follow Ballotpedia. What's on your ballot? Jump to: navigation , search. Epstein Federalist No. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs U. Robbins Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council Skidmore v. Humphrey's Executor v. Volpe More court cases. Any inconsistencies are attributable to the original source.

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