The remedial and preventive nature
of Congress' enforcement power, and the limitation inherent in the
power, were confirmed in our earliest cases on the Fourteenth Amendment.
In the Civil Rights Cases,
109 U.S. 3 (1883), the Court invalidated sections of the Civil
Rights Act of 1875 which prescribed criminal penalties for denying
to any person "the full enjoyment of" public accommodations and
conveyances, on the grounds that it exceeded Congress' power by
seeking to regulate private conduct. The Enforcement Clause, the
Court said, did not authorize Congress to pass "general legislation
upon the rights of the citizen, but corrective legislation; that
is, such as may be necessary and proper for counteracting such laws
as the States may adopt or enforce, and which, by the amendment,
they are prohibited from making or enforcing . . . ." Id., at 13-14.
The power to "legislate generally upon" life, liberty, and property,
as opposed to the "power to provide modes of redress" against offensive
state action, was "repugnant" to the Constitution. Id., at 15. See
also United States v. Reese,
92 U.S. 214, 218 (1876); United States v. Harris,
106 U.S. 629, 639 (1883); James v. Bowman,
190 U.S. 127, 139 (1903). Although the specific holdings of
these early cases might have been superseded or modified, see, e.g.,
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States,
379 U.S. 241 (1964); United States v. Guest,
383 U.S. 745 (1966), their treatment of Congress' §5 power as
corrective or preventive, not definitional, has not been questioned.
of Boerne v. Florez, Archbishop of San Antonio, 521 U.S. 507 (1997)]
The Party's selection of a candidate
at the convention does not satisfy that test. As we stated in Flagg
Bros., Inc. v. Brooks, "the Constitution protects private
rights of association and advocacy with regard to the election of
public officials" and it is only "the conduct of the elections themselves
[that] is an exclusively public function."
436 U.S., at 158 (citing Terry). Thus, we have carefully distinguished
the "conduct" of an election by the State from the exercise of private
political rights within that state-created framework. Providing
an orderly and fair process for the selection of public officers
is a classic exclusive state function. As the Constitution itself
evidences, the organization of the electoral process has been carried
out by States since the founding: "The Times, Places and Manner
of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be
prescribed in [ MORSE v. REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA, ___ U.S.
___ (1996) , 22] each State by the Legislature thereof." U.S. Const.,
Art. I, 4, cl. 1
v. Republican Party of Virginia, 517 U.S. 186 (1996)]
The comments of Hamilton and others
about federal power reflected the well-known truth that the
new Government would have only the limited and enumerated powers
found in the Constitution. See, e.g., 2 Debates 267-268 (A. Hamilton
at New York convention) (noting [ UNITED STATES v. LOPEZ, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 10]
that there would be just cause for rejecting the
Constitution if it would enable the Federal Government to "alter,
or abrogate . . . [a state's] civil and criminal institutions [or]
penetrate the recesses of domestic life, and control, in all respects,
the private conduct of individuals"); The Federalist No.
45, at 313 (J. Madison); 3 Debates 259 (J. Madison) (Virginia convention);
R. Sherman & O. Ellsworth, Letter to Governor Huntington, Sept.
26, 1787, in 3 Documentary History 352; J. Wilson, Speech in the
State House Yard, Oct. 6, 1787, in 2 id., at 167-168. Agriculture
and manufacture, since they were not surrendered to the Federal
Government, were state concerns. See The Federalist No. 34, at 212-213
(A. Hamilton) (observing that the "internal encouragement of agriculture
and manufactures" was an object of state expenditure). Even before
the passage of the Tenth Amendment, it was apparent that Congress
would possess only those powers "herein granted" by the rest of
the Constitution. U.S. Const., Art. I, 1.
Where the Constitution was meant
to grant federal authority over an activity substantially affecting
interstate commerce, the Constitution contains an enumerated power
over that particular activity. Indeed, the Framers knew that many
of the other enumerated powers in 8 dealt with matters that substantially
affected interstate commerce. Madison, for instance, spoke of the
bankruptcy power as being "intimately connected with the regulation
of commerce." The Federalist No. 42, at 287. Likewise, Hamilton
urged that "[i]f we mean to be a commercial people or even to be
secure on our Atlantic side, we must endeavour as soon as possible
to have a navy." Id., No. 24, at 157 (A. Hamilton).
In short, the Founding Fathers were
well aware of what the principal dissent calls "`economic . . .
realities.'" See post, at 11-12 (BREYER, J.) (citing North American
Co. v. SEC,
327 U.S. 686, 705 (1946)). Even though the boundary between
commerce and other matters may [ UNITED STATES v. LOPEZ, ___ U.S.
___ (1995) , 11] ignore "economic reality" and thus seem arbitrary
or artificial to some, we must nevertheless respect a constitutional
line that does not grant Congress power over all that substantially
affects interstate commerce.
States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995)]