Brief Fact Summary. The Appellee, Filburn (Appellee), produced wheat only for personal and local consumption. He was penalized for growing wheat in excess of his allotment allowed by the Department of Agriculture.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Congress may regulate the activities of entities totally apart from interstate commerce, if those activities affect interstate commerce.
Home-grown wheat in this sense competes with wheat in commerce.View Full Point of Law
Issue. May Congress regulate purely intrastate activities under the commerce clause?
Held. Yes. Appeals court ruling reversed and remanded.
Although the wheat may be entirely for personal consumption, it does compete for wheat in commerce, by taking away the demand for wheat by the one who grows it. As the one growing the wheat does not have to buy wheat, the demand for wheat goes down. When viewed in the aggregate (if everyone overgrew wheat “for personal consumption”), this decrease in demand would have a significant effect on interstate commerce.
The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) acknowledges that the effect of the single farmer may well be negligible to interstate commerce, but when viewed in the aggregate of all farmers “similarly situated” it may significantly affect the value of wheat in commerce.
Discussion. Wickard v. Filburn is in some ways the greatest exercise of the commerce power recognized by the Supreme Court. Note that the Supreme Court seems to say Congress can compel an individual to purchase wheat when the individual could grow wheat for personal consumption.