Date of Award
Dr. Bob Riley
Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress did not have the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. As a result, each state attempted to protect local business at the expense of the other states through the enforcing of trade barriers. Removal of these restrictions on commercial relations imposed by the "sovereign" states became one of the "moving purposes" which brought about the Constitutional Convention in 1787. There seems to be no doubt that the commerce clause was inserted in the Constitution to prevent the states from interfering with the freedom of commercial intercourse.
The constitutional meaning of the commerce clause has been developed and expanded by statutory enactments and through judicial interpretation. These have converted this clause into one of the most important grants of authority in the Constitution. Justice Harlan Stone once said that the "commerce clause and the wise interpretation of it, perhaps more than any other contributing element, have united to bind the several states into a nation." It is largely through the commerce power that Congress has gained the authority to regulate almost every conceivable aspect of American life. And the commerce power continues to expand to immense proportions.
Biggs, Cloene, "The Supreme Court as the Arbiter of Economic Affairs through Interpretation of the Commerce Clause from 1789 through 1937" (1968). Honors Theses. 558.