• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court expanded the definition of interstate commerce to justify federal regulation supporting much New Deal legislation.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, part of the New Deal legislation, placed quotas on the amount of grain that could be produced. Roscoe Filburn was a small farmer who raised wheat for his own consumption and to feed his own livestock. In 1941 he exceeded his quota and was penalized by the federal government. Although Filburn did not engage in any commerce beyond his locality and never across state lines, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against him, arguing that his own consumption reduced the sales others would have made to him across state lines and therefore affected interstate commerce. The Court upheld the 1938 act and, by implication, much New Deal legislation. In the early 1930’s, the Court’s reluctance to approve New Deal legislation led Franklin D. Roosevelt to attempt a Court-packing plan; however, he eventually appointed enough members (and persuaded others to change their minds) to control the Court. This complete control was evident in this unanimous opinion. With interstate commerce so broadly defined there was virtually no limit to the power of the federal government to regulate commerce.New DealCommerce clause;Wickard v. Filburn[Wickard v. Filburn]New Deal

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Categories: History