Champion v. Ames

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In Champion v. Ames (1903), the U.S. Supreme Court sustained a federal statute that made it illegal to transport lottery tickets in interstate commerce. Speaking for the five-member majority, Justice John Marshall Harlan claimed that Congress “may . . . exclude from commerce among the states any article . . . it may choose.” The Tenth Amendment, according to Harlan, was not a limit on Congress’s Commerce Clause power to exclude goods from shipment in interstate commerce, a power “expressly delegated to Congress.” Speaking for the dissenters, Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller disagreed and expressed their fear of creating “a centralized government” if the Tenth Amendment did not serve as an effective limit on Congress’s power.

In later cases, the Court upheld the power of Congress to enact the Pure Food and Drug Act (Hipolite Egg Company v. United States 1911), and the Mann Act (Hoke v. United States 1913)—both of which banned the shipment of noxious goods in interstate commerce—but denied congressional authority to ban the shipment of goods made by child labor (Hammer v. Dagenhart 1918).

Ellis Katz

Last updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Commerce among the States; Hammer v. Dagenhart; Hipolite Egg Company v. United States; Tenth Amendment