What type of laws have been passed by Congress pursuant to the interstate commerce clause?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many types of laws that have been passed by Congress pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.  Let us look at a few of them.

First, Congress has passed many laws that regulate clear examples of interstate commerce.  For example, Congress has passed laws regulating the purity of food and drugs.  These things are often made using materials from various states and are then sold across state lines.  Because these things are part of interstate commerce, Congress has regulated them.

Second, Congress has passed laws that regulate things just because they could have an effect on interstate commerce.  For example, the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzalez v. Raich (2005) that the US government may enforce drug laws against marijuana even when the marijuana was grown inside a state for the private use of the grower.  The Court held that even such growing of marijuana could have an impact on the interstate commerce in marijuana and that therefore Congress could regulate it.

Finally, there is anti-discrimination law.  This is perhaps the most important kind of law that does not clearly pertain to interstate commerce but which Congress has passed under the Commerce Clause.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, bans racial discrimination even in small local stores and restaurants.  The rationale here is that most of the things sold in these stores and restaurants have been traded across state lines.  Therefore, the racial discrimination would be part of interstate commerce even though it was clearly occurring within a state.

All of these are kinds of laws that Congress has passed pursuant to the Commerce Clause.