interstate commerce

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Interstate commerce is the general term for transacting or transportation of products, services, or money across state borders. Article I section 8 clause of the U.S. Constitution, the commerce clause, grants Congress the power to “regulate commerce. . . among the several states.” The jurisprudence around Congress’s power under the commerce clause is central to understanding the modern state. In 1824, the Supreme Court in Gibbons v. Ogden read the clause broadly in holding that intrastate activity could be regulated under the Commerce Clause, provided that the activity is part of a larger interstate commercial scheme. In the early 1940s, however, the Supreme Court became willing to give an unequivocally broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause, in cases such as U.S. v. Darby and Wickard v. Filburn. Congress has since used the Commerce Clause to enact legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (see Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.) and federal regulation of marijuana production (see Gonzales v. Raich).

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]