Federal Hate Crime Laws and United States v. Lopez: On A Collision Course To Clarify Jurisdictional-Element Analysis

Rather than overrule the previous sixty years of Commerce Clause cases, Lopez reinterpreted many of the earlier cases to make them fit within its new framework. While Lopez was a surprising shift in Commerce Clause doctrine at the time of the Court’s decision, two major subsequent cases, United States v. Morrison and Gonzales v. Raich, have reinforced the Lopez framework and continued the effort to pull back on what the Court has seen as the increasing federalization of control over traditionally local activities. Since 1995, federal courts have been more willing to strike down federal laws as exceeding Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause, particularly those laws that have dealt with non-economic criminal activities.

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