Brief Fact Summary. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 (the Act) sought to address disposal of radioactive waste. One provision of the Act requires the State to take title to any waste of which it is not able to provide disposal.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Congress may not “commandeer[r] the legislative processes of the States” by compulsion.
Issue. May Congress compel the States to choose between expending state funds and enforcing a federal regulatory scheme?
Held. No. Appeals court ruling affirmed.
The Respondents, the United States (Respondents), argued that by allowing the States to choose to take title or to dispose of the waste themselves, the take title provision is a constitutional exercise of regulatory power.
It is clear that Congress cannot force a State government to enforce a federal regulatory scheme.
It is also clear that requiring a State government to take possession of the waste is equivalent to requiring a State to spend state funds. From this, it follows that requiring a State to choose between to unconstitutional alternatives is not a constitutional exercise of federal power.
One of these limitations is that conditions must bear some relationship to the purpose of the federal spending; otherwise, of course, the spending power could render academic the Constitution's other grants and limits of federal authority.View Full Point of Law