Article 1 Section 8 Clause 3 of the constitution says: to regulate commerce with foreign nations, states and the Indian Tribes.
What does this mean?
I just need someone to explain to me what this section and clause is really all about. The part "and among the several states", is in reference to which several states? Also why are the 'foreign nations' and 'indian tribes' a part of the same sentence? Why is it important to regulate commerce with the Indian Tribes to begin with?
This clause is the powerful Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, perhaps the most broadly construed and broadly applied of any provision of the Constitution itself. It allows Congress to have exclusive control of "commerce" between any two or more states; that is any transaction which crosses state lines. While on the surface, it would seem to apply to only commercial trade, it has been construed to allow federal jurisdiction of such things as Kidnapping when the victim is carried across state lines. (The Lindbergh Act was passed pursuant to the Commerce Clause.) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any business of public accommodation engaged in interstate commerce to discriminate on the basis of race. Many criminal cases pursued by the FBI are pursuant to "unlawful flight" across state lines, again under the commerce clause.
The provision regarding the "several Indian tribes" was important at the time the Constitution was drafted, as Indians were a substantial factor in the country. It effectively gave the Federal Government exclusive control over any trade, commerce or transactions with Indian tribes. Most such tribes were under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA.) More recently, Indian tribes have sued a number of states which took property from them many years ago alleging that such taking was in violation of the provisions of the Commerce Clause. Their argument is that only the Federal Government had the right to deal with them, therefore any transactions forced on them by the states was unconstitutional.