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Commerce Clause of the Constitution
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President Truman signs the Fair Labor Standards Act, Justice Blackmun notes on Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transportation
National League of Cities v. Usery

In National League of Cities v. Usery, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for a 5-4 plurality, found that Congress's power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause could not infringe on areas "traditionally" reserved to the states. Rehnquist found that Congress's attempt to regulate state employees' minimum wages and maximum hours under the congressional Fair Labor Standards Act was unconstitutional and intruded on states' rights granted in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution because it infringed on an authority traditionally exercised by the states.

Photographic Portrait of Chief Justice Rehnquist
"Congress may not exercise that power so as to force directly upon the States its choices as to how essential decisions regarding the conduct of integral governmental functions are to be made. We agree that such assertions of power, if unchecked, would indeed, -- transgress the bounds of the authority granted Congress under the Commerce Clause." -- Chief Justice Rehnquist

Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority

In Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for a 5-4 majority, found that the city of San Antonio, a state employer, was bound to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines in paying its municipal transit employees. In finding that the state employer was bound by federal legislation, Justice Blackmun argued that earlier "traditional role" of states, a standard set forth in National League of Cities case less than 10 years earlier, was unworkable, and that the Commerce Clause was not intended to be limited by that standard.

Photographic Portrait of Justice Blackmun
"We do not lightly overrule recent precedent. We have not hesitated, however, when it has become apparent that a prior decision has departed from a proper understanding of congressional power under the Commerce Clause. Due respect for the reach of congressional power within the federal system mandates that we do so now." -- Justice Harry Blackmun

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