An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

In 1935, President Roosevelt signed into law the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This statute gave the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) the power to punish “unfair labor practices affecting commerce.”

The Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation argued that the NLRA was “an attempt to regulate all industry, thus invading the reserved powers of the States over their local concerns.” On this question, the Court split 5-4. Chief Justice Hughes wrote the majority opinion. He acknowledged that the federal government could not regulate “all labor relations, but only what may be deemed to burden or obstruct that commerce.” This test allowed Congress to protect interstate commerce from “burdens and obstructions.”

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