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United States v. Lopez (93-1260), 514 U.S. 549 (1995).
Concurrence
[ Kennedy ]
Syllabus
Dissent
[ Stevens ]
Concurrence
[ Thomas ]
Dissent
[ Souter ]
Dissent
[ Breyer ]
Opinion
[ Rehnquist ]
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NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

UNITED STATES v. LOPEZ

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit

No. 93-1260. Argued November 8, 1994 -- Decided April 26, 1995

After respondent, then a 12th grade student, carried a concealed handgun into his high school, he was charged with violating the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990, which forbids "any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that [he] knows . . . is a school zone," 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(1)(A). The District Court denied his motion to dismiss the indictment, concluding that §922(q) is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power to regulate activities in and affecting commerce. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that, in light of what it characterized as insufficient congressional findings and legislative history, §922(q) is invalid as beyond Congress' power under the Commerce Clause.

Held: The Act exceeds Congress' Commerce Clause authority. First, although this Court has upheld a wide variety of congressional Acts regulating intrastate economic activity that substantially affected interstate commerce, the possession of a gun in a local school zone is in no sense an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, have such a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Section 922(q) is a criminal statute that by its terms has nothing to do with "commerce" or any sort of economic enterprise, however broadly those terms are defined. Nor is it an essential part of a larger regulation of economic activity, in which the regulatory scheme could be undercut unless the intrastate activity were regulated. It cannot, therefore, be sustained under the Court's cases upholding regulations of activities that arise out of or are connected with a commercial transaction, which viewed in the aggregate, substantially affects interstate commerce. Second, §922(q) contains no jurisdictional element which would ensure, through case by case inquiry, that the firearms possession in question has the requisite nexus with interstate commerce. Respondent was a local student at a local school; there is no indication that he had recently moved in interstate commerce, and there is no requirement that his possession of the firearm have any concrete tie to interstate commerce. To uphold the Government's contention that §922(q) is justified because firearms possession in a local school zone does indeed substantially affect interstate commerce would require this Court to pile inference upon inference in a manner that would bid fair to convert congressional Commerce Clause authority to a general police power of the sort held only by the States. Pp. 2-19.

2 F. 3d 1342, affirmed.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which O'Connor, J., joined. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion. Stevens, J., and Souter, J., filed dissenting opinions. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined.