Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, the state of New York (Petitioner), sought a declaration that the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendment Act of 1985 (the Act) was violative of the United States Constitution (Constitution).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The federal government cannot compel a state to “enact a certain statute” or “regulate in a particular way.”
Issue. Whether the federal government can compel a state to enact a statute or regulate in a certain way.
Held. No. Judgment affirmed in part and reversed in part.
Constitutional principles are violated when the federal government orders a state to enact certain statutes and regulate in a certain way. However, the Commerce and Spending Clause allows the federal government to directly regulate interstate commerce.
The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) declared that the Commerce and Spending Clauses allows Congress to set forth incentives that would encourage states to participate in its programs. The Court also declared that providing the states with a choice to use the federal disposal waste plan or to create solutions for waste disposal within its boarders does not conflict with the principles set forth within the Tenth Amendment.
The take-title provision of the Act violates the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution because under this provision, states are compelled to join the federal waste disposal program. The Act’s provision provides only two choices for the states – to either join the federal program or accept ownership of the waste. A nonparticipating state, under the Act, is vulnerable to liability damages as a result of waste not disposed of within its boarders. Congress is not authorized by the Constitution to impose such requirements upon the states.
The Court affirms the two incentive provisions under the Act and reverses the take-title provision under the Act.
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