Gonzalez v. Raich
SCOTUS - 2005
- CA passed Compassionate Use ct to ensure that "seriously ill" residents had access to medicinal marijuana.
- Respondents were growing medicinal marijuana, and DEA agents came to their home and destroyed the plants.
- Respondents sought declaratory relief to prohibit the enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
- COA found for respondents.
- SCOTUS held for petitioners, CSA constitutional.
- Does the commerce power of Congress extend to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with CA law?
- Congress has the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana under the power of the commerce clause.
- Respondent's argue that the CSA's categorical prohibition on marijuana exceeds Congress' authority under the commerce clause.
- Case law firmly establishes Congress' power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic "class of activities" that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce (Wickard).
- Wickard establishes that Congress can regulate intrastate activity that is not itself "commercial" (not produced for sale) if it concludes that failure to regulate that activity would undercut regulation of the interstate market for that commodity.
- Congress had a rational basis for concluding that leaving home-consumed marijuana outside federal control would affect price and market conditions.
- There is a high likelihood that marijuana grown for personal use will end up in the interstate market because of high demand for marijuana.
- Rational basis is all that is needed, not actual evidence of the effect.
- Respondent's attempt to rely on Lopez and Morrison is incorrect, because the activities regulated by the CSA are quintessentially economic, since they are related to production.
- Scalia (concurring)
- The third category of activity that can be controlled under the commerce clause is misleading, because activities that substantially affect interstate commerce are not themselves necessarily part of commerce.
- Therefore, the power to regulate them comes from the Necessary and Proper Clause.
- O'Connor, Thomas, Rehnquist
- One of federalism's chief virtues is that allows states to serve as laboratories, and this is a prime example of that.
- Decision allows Congress to regulate intrastate activity without check, so long as there is some implication by legislative design that regulating intrastate activity is essential to the interstate regulatory scheme.
- This is inconsistent with Lopez, because the Court said Lopez's regulations were not commercial. Congress should have just said that the crime was "transfer or possession of a firearm," thus including some commercial activity and making it constitutional.
- If the Court always defers to Congress in this way, little may be left to the notion of enumerated powers.
- It has not been shown that personal medicinal marijuana use substantially affects interstate commerce, nor hat regulating such activity is necessary to the interstate drug control scheme.
- Putting this under the necessary and proper clause doesn't change anything, because this authority must also be used in a manner consistent with the notion of enumerated powers.
- If Congress can regulate something that has never been bought or sold or crossed state lines, it can regulate virtually anything.
- Distinction between aggregation of the activity across the country and aggregate nature of the activity in general as dispositive.