US v. Lopez (1995)
Is the Gun Free School Zones Act an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s power? This case was based on the commerce clause. Alfonso Lopez walked into his San Antonio high school carrying a concealed weapon, violating a Texas law that banned firearms in schools. But the next day those charges were dropped and he was then charged with offending a federal law: The Gun Free School Zones Act. He was indicted and found guilty, and sentenced to six months in jail. He challenged his conviction saying that the federal ...view middle of the document...
The Court referenced the Founders’ belief that there should be a balance between state and federal government powers. The case is significant to society because it’s the first time in fifty years that Congress overstepped its power under the commerce clause.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Does the elastic clause give Congress the power to create a national bank? This case was based on the elastic clause. The state of Maryland passed a law in 1818 taxing the national bank’s Baltimore branch $15,000 a year. The branch refused to pay; instead it sued the cashier, James McCulloch, for payment. Maryland upheld the tax, so the bank appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court stated that the Constitution was not meant to limit Congress’s powers, but rather allow Congress to use their powers for “necessary and proper” means to fulfill its responsibilities. Even though it is not specifically stated in the Constitution that Congress has the power to establish a national bank, Congress has the implied power to create it. This case is important to society because it established the supremacy of the national government above the states. It gave implied powers to Congress in order to enforce its enumerated powers, which were specifically stated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.