Federal Powers Under the Commerce Clause

October 4, 1935

Report Outline
Enlargement of Federal Powers as an Issue in 1936
Early History of the Commerce Clause
Supreme Court Interpretation of Commerce Clause
Commerce Clause Cases Under New Deal

Enlargement of Federal Powers as an Issue in 1936

Decisions by the supreme court at its 1935–36 term holding the Agricultural Adjustment Act and other New Deal legislation unconstitutional may cause the Roosevelt administration to sponsor an amendment or amendments to the federal Constitution broadening the powers of the federal government to deal with social and economic questions on a national scale. This was suggested in a speech by Secretary of Commerce Roper, September 17, which was widely publicized.

If practical experience … proves conclusively that the federal government does not have the proper authority to maintain the public welfare and provide, a democratic distribution of benefits [Roper said], it must be the inescapable responsibility of leadership to clarify that issue for the American people so that they may, through the means provided in the Constitution itself, express their collective will.

Terming the right of amendment “the heartbeat of our constitutional system,” he declared that “the first requirement of a progressive society is a progressive Constitution.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Constitution and Separation of Powers
Sep. 07, 2012  Re-examining the Constitution
Jan. 29, 1988  Treaty Ratification
Mar. 27, 1987  Bicentennial of the Constitution
Jan. 31, 1986  Constitution Debate Renewed
Mar. 16, 1979  Calls for Constitutional Conventions
Jul. 04, 1976  Appraising the American Revolution
Sep. 12, 1973  Separation of Powers
Jul. 12, 1972  Treaty Ratification
Apr. 19, 1967  Foreign Policy Making and the Congress
Mar. 05, 1947  Contempt of Congress
May 10, 1945  The Tariff Power
Jul. 01, 1943  Executive Agreements
Jun. 01, 1943  Advice and Consent of the Senate
May 24, 1943  Modernization of Congress
Jan. 18, 1943  The Treaty Power
Aug. 24, 1942  Congress and the Conduct of War
May 09, 1940  Congressional Powers of Inquiry
Nov. 09, 1939  Participation by Congress in Control of Foreign Policy
Apr. 21, 1937  Revision of the Constitution
Feb. 24, 1936  Advance Opinions on Constitutional Questions
Oct. 04, 1935  Federal Powers Under the Commerce Clause
Jun. 19, 1935  The President, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court
Sep. 10, 1928  The Senate and the Multilateral Treaty
Dec. 16, 1926  The Senate's Power of Investigation
Oct. 03, 1924  Pending Proposals to Amend the Constitution
U.S. Constitution