National League of Cities v. Usery
- Concerned the extent of the government's commerce clause powers over the direct activity of States in employing workers and setting wages for these workers through the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- SCOTUS found FLSA as applied to "traditional" State government activities (such as employment) unconstitutional.
- When Congress seeks to directly regulate the activities of the States as public employers, is it violating the 10th Amendment?
- When Congress attempts to directly regulate the employment activities of the States (such as through the FLSA), it is violating the 10th Amendment.
- There are limits on the power of Congress to override state sovereignty, even when it is exercising its powers under other parts of the Constitution. While it might be a "truism," the 10th Amendment has significance.
- States claim that this will significantly increase costs and impede the functioning of state governments.
- Also will affect police training, displace state policies about how services such as health care, sanitation, and parks and recreation will be delivered and structured.
- Might not be able to employ teenagers over the summers or employ casual workers.
- The only way to counteract this would be for the states to increase their revenue or reduce the number of employees.
- If Congress may withdraw from the states the authority to make fundamental employment decisions, we think there would be little left of the States' "separate and independent existence."
- (Blackmun- concurring)
- The Court's opinion should not be read to outlaw federal power in areas such as environmental protection, where federal interest is demonstrably greater and where state compliance would be essential.
- This is a repudiation of precedents, and is just a cover for invalidating an act with which the majority disagrees.
- You basically have to go back to the 1930s to find decisions that support this view.
- The federal government should have the power to regulate employment, even if it is enforced against the States themselves.