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United States v. Lopez

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 514 U.S. 549, 115 S. Ct. 1624, 131 L. Ed. 2d 626, 1995 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. The Gun-Free School Zones Act (the Act) of 1990 made possessing a gun within a school zone a federal offense. A 12th grade student (Lopez) was convicted of violating the Act when he brought a handgun to his high school.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The power of Congress to regulate activities extends only to those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. The Act neither regulates commercial activity, nor contains a requirement that the possession be connected in any way to interstate commerce.

Facts. Congress passed the Act making it a federal crime “for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” Lopez (D), a 12th grader, was convicted for carrying a concealed handgun into his high school. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court on the grounds that the law was outside the scope of the commerce power.

Issue. Does the commerce power of Congress extend to activities that have no apparent connection to interstate commerce?

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