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Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority

Citation. 469 U.S. 528, 105 S.Ct. 1005, 83 L.Ed.2d 1016 (1985).
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Brief Fact Summary.


Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The division between Congressional regulatory power under the commerce clause and state sovereignty is defined by political action, not judicial review.


Garcia brought suit against his employer, the San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (SAMTA), arguing that its function as a transit authority was a “non-traditional” function of state government and was thus bound by the standards of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).


May Congress regulate employment relations in a state via the FLSA?


Justice Powell, Burger, Rehnquist, O’Connor

The majority’s holding effectively reduces the Tenth Amendment to meaningless rhetoric when Congress acts pursuant to the Commerce Clause. Judicial enforcement of the Tenth Amendment is essential to maintaining the federal system.


The majority perceives nothing in the overtime and minimum-wage requirements of the FLSA as it applies to the SAMTA that is destructive of state sovereignty. SAMTA faces nothing more than the same minimum-wage and overtime obligations that hundreds of thousands of other employers, public as well as private, have to meet. The political process ensures that laws that unduly burden the States will not be promulgated.

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