Monday, June 06, 2005

The Commerce Clause Hath Run Amok

Just when you think you've read just about everything stupid thing that could be said about the Commerce Clause, there comes another:
Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.

Okay, so the voters of 10 states, including California, have decided that they will allow their ill citizens to inhale to relieve their pain, and an old lady gets busted for growing pot for her own medicinal use in her own California backyard. How can this possibly affect interstate commerce giving the feds sway over state law you ask? Well, you have to get into Justice Stevens' head for the answer:

Wickard thus establishes that Congress can regulate
purely intrastate activity that is not itself "commercial," in
that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure
to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity.
The similarities between this case and Wickard are
striking. Like the [wheat]farmer in Wickard, respondents are cultivating, for home consumption, a fungible commodity for which there is an established, albeit illegal, interstatemarket. Just as the Agricultural Adjustment Act was designed "to control the volume [of wheat] moving ininterstate and foreign commerce in order to avoid surpluses. . ." and consequently control the market price,id., at 115, a primary purpose of the CSA is to control thesupply and demand of controlled substances in both lawful and unlawful drug markets.

Good Lord, make it stop.


Pile On® said...

I am sorry I don't follow, and if he goes on I don't think it anymore likely I will.

Everything is interstate commerce.


KJ said...

I have stated before at various blogs, perhaps my own or E&FI, but more likely TOB and VC, that Wickard is one of the worst SCt opinions ever. I had hoped it would not rear its ugly head, but here it is again.

Note, O'Conner gets her lumps deservedly so, but she dissented. She can by relied upon to favor states rights (I think she dissented in S.D. v. Dole also.)

Note also, Scalia confirms (seperately). Disappointing, but as always he cannot be pigeonholed.

Thomas and Rehnquist also dissent, making it 6-3. Rehnquist surprised me. There are times I believed him to be outcome determinative (like in SD v. Dole where he sided with regulation of drinking over state's rights), but here he sided with the drug users.

Scalia's disappointing turn did not change the outcome.

Where was Kennedy? Sad.

spd rdr said...

I couldn't agree more, KJ. Notice that Scalia does not even cite Wickard in his concurrence, much allow it to form the entire foundation of his opinion. I cannot say often enough that Stevens needs to be put out to pasture. Even when he's right he's wrong.

KJ said...

Stevens offers nothing.

If he were a horse, my dog would be eating him and KJita would be sticking paper together with him.

Axinar said...

Yes, it is a sad, sad day for America ...