Brief Fact Summary. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Act Amendments of 1985 required states to dispose of radioactive waste within their borders. New York filed suit, arguing that Congress did not have authority to regulate state waste management.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Congress may encourage States to provide for disposal of waste generated within their borders, but it may not compel them to do so.
Issue. Were the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Act Amendments of 1985 constitutional?
Held. Yes and No. The Court upheld two of the three provisions of the Act.
The financial rewards and access to disposal sites are proper incentives for the States to participate in the waste management program. The “take-title” provision, however, would commandeer state governments into service for federal regulatory purposes. Thus, the third incentive crosses the line of encouragement to coercion, and thereby violates the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.
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