1989]                    AMPLIFYING THE TENTH AMENDMENT                         927

authorized the President to freeze all wages and prices.  The federal district court in Ohio enjoined the state from raising state employee salaries above authorized amounts.  On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the Act applied to Ohio and that state pay raises, although purely intrastate in nature, could affect interstate commerce.106 Furthermore, the Court decided that since the Act did not appreciably impact upon state sovereignty and, instead, constituted an emergency measure to curb inflation, any claim of sovereignty by the states would have to yield to the federal government's authority under the Commerce Clause.107 Justice Rehnquist's dissent in Fry cautioned that the tenth amendment was being deprived of meaning and, quoting Justice Douglas' dissent from Wirtz108 stated that the federal government could,  thereby, destroy the essentials of state sovereignty.109




In 1976, the Court decided National League of Cities v. Usery110 and attempted to define the boundaries of state sovereignty.  Amendments to the FLSA, extending its minimum wage and maximum hours provisions to almost all employees of the states and their political subdivisions, precipitated the bringing of this suit.111 The plaintiffs included the National League of Cities, the National Governor's Conference, several municipalities, and twenty states.112 The Court ruled in favor of the National League of Cities, holding that the 1974 amendments to the FLSA directly interfered with the states' ability to structure traditional government functions and impaired the ability of the states to operate effectively in the federal system.113 In so ruling, the Court distinguished Fry and overruled Wirtz114 Moreover, the Court expressly differentiated Congress' right under the Commerce Clause to regulate private individuals and businesses from Congress' power to regulate the states.115 The Court stated that there were aspects of state sovereignty which Congress could not impair because of inherent constitutional prohibitions.116 One aspect of protected state sovereignty was the states' power to determine the wages they would pay their employees and the hours their employees would work.117

Justice Brennan's dissent in National League of Cities stated that the majority's opinion repudiated an unbroken line of cases and could only be regarded as an ill-conceived, transparent cover for invalidating a congressional judgment with which the majority disagreed.118 He also observed that

Previous < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 > Next 

106. Id. at 547-48.

107. Id.

108. Id. at 549, 550 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting).

109. Id.

110. 426 U.S. 833(1976).

111. Id.

112. Id. at 836 n.7.

113. Id. at 840-52.

114. Id. at 852-55.

115. Id.

116. Id. at 845.

117. Id.

118. Id. at 867 (Brennan, J., dissenting).

Previous < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 > Next