Writing Exercise: The Commerce Clause

Recently, during my breakfasts, I’ve been watching a series of lectures. They’re based on the constitution…I know, boring, right? More to the point, these lectures revolve around Supreme Court decisions….you’ve just stopped reading.

If you haven’t stopped by now, I’ll tell you that, while the constitution is thought of as a solid piece of legislation, it’s actually not like that at all. It’s been bent, twisted and amended to conform to current times and events. These lessons, which I consider rather perception changing, are taught by a University of Nebraska professor known as Eric Berger.

That out of the way, it seems, as the professor’s lectures go on, and I’m sure he’s mentioned it, that congress’s power, at least in this day and age, has certainly broadened.

One reason for that, and I find it almost comical, at least in a certain sense, is the Supreme Court’s loose interpretation of the commerce clause; until recently, it was like a wild card in uno…Okay, that might be over the top, but my simile does have a bit of credibility.

It started with segregation, and I know, don’t fly off the handle, there’s nothing funny about racism. But considering commerce has to do with…Wait!!” I hear you say, “What the hell is the commerce clause?”

I’ll explain: It’s part of Article Two; that article specifies congress’s power. And originally, seeing how before the constitution was ratified, in attempt to settle skirmishes and quarrels between states, those in the Constitutional convention penned the commerce clause to regulate interstate commerce.

Yet, during African American’s struggles for equality, the black community enjoyed victories over segregation due to this clause. How so?

Well, cases brought before the Supreme Court, one concerning a hotel, and another a restaurant, decided that segregation influenced interstate commerce and, because of that, was an act that could be stopped by congress.

Okay, some of you may be thinking, “Why wouldn’t they use the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment?” That’s an excellent question. And I believe those who pushed that law through would absolutely be wondering the same thing.

Sadly, the precedent for segregation had been set long before those cases. And once it’s set, particularly in a racist climate, those decisions persist. So, while the equal protection clause, which, by the way, was written shortly after the Civil War, in an attempt to give former slaves a fair shot at liberty….but anyways, it was rendered neutral.

So lawyers attacked segregation, at least when they felt they had a shot, in a different way. That was, of course, as it’s in the title, the commerce clause. And it worked! How?

Well, a little creativity came into play. Think of it like this, if you’re traveling across state lines, well, you’re affecting commerce. If you feel, and if you’re African American, because most hotels are all white, like you can’t travel to that state…well, yeah, it affects commerce.

It was a great strategy, and the Supreme Court said it made sense. So, building on that success, other, how would you say, I guess ‘more questionable’ would be the correct words…anyways, congress began attaching more bills that were passed using that clause.

The Guns in school zone law was attached to this clause. How that affects interstate commerce, I really don’t have a clue. As you can guess, as congress abused this clause, eventually the Supreme Court started limiting these broad interpretations.

Well, I’ll cut this piece short. Why the hell did I write this? It’s a brief essay, meant to hone my persuasive writing skills. Plus, if I write down what I’ve learned, respecting a perceived audience while I do, I tend to retain the information longer. Plus, it gives me a project during my lunch hour

Take care and Safe Travels!

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