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US v. Lopez

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Olivia Peterson

on 28 October 2012

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Transcript of US v. Lopez

US v. Lopez Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 made possessing a gun within a school zone a federal offense. A 12th grade student, Alfonzo Lopez, was convicted of violating the Act when he brought a handgun to his high school in Texas, 1994. What is the case about? By:Olivia Peterson Lopez arrested and charged under Texas law with firearm possession on school premises.Acting upon an anonymous tip, school authorities confronted respondent, who admitted that he was carrying the weapon.The next day, the state charges were dismissed after federal agents charged Lopez with violating the Act. A federal grand jury indicted respondent on one count of knowing possession of a firearm at a school zone is a violation. Lopez moved to dismiss the federal indictment on the ground that the Gun-Free School Zones Act unconstitutionally allows Congress to control activities regarding commerce in public schools beyond its legislative powers What were the circumstances surrounding the case? The District Court denied the motion, concluding that it "is a constitutional exercise of Congress' well-defined power to regulate activities in and affecting commerce, and the 'business' of elementary, middle and high schools ... affects interstate commerce." Lopez waived his right to a jury trial. The District Court conducted a bench trial, found him guilty and sentenced him to six months' imprisonment and two years' supervised release. In the Federal Court Decision of Federal Court Supreme Court Ruling
The Court, the decision held that Congress had exceeded its authority by enacting the Gun-Free School Zone law under the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Court found the "Gun-Free School Zones Act" too far removed to be applicable under that constitutional provision.
The Commerce Clause is intended to regulate activities that affect interstate commerce, and that the 1990 statute failed to meet even the most superficial requirements of that particular enumerated power.

1.No economic activity was involved.
2.The federal government lacked jurisdiction because there was no evidence the handgun had been or would be moved between the states.
3.There was a lack of supporting evidence of a link between guns and education.
The Supreme Court reviewed the case November 8th 1994.

5-4 majority rule in favor of Lopez Wallace B. Jefferson Priscilla Owen Paul W. Green Nathan Hecht




Dale Wainwright Phil Johnson Scott A. Brister Harriet O'Neal David M. Medina Supreme Court Justices The Lopez decision made significant changes by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush on the Court. The decision affirmed the strong interest of the high court in supporting state sovereignty. The Impact The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Alfonzo Lopez on April 26th of 1995. Lopez thus marked the first time in more than 50 years that the Court limited Congress's commerce power. The Court's decision in Lopez and the cases that followed it may be the harbinger of a developing constitutional revolution in federalism. The most important thing was the decision affirmed the strong interest of the high court in supporting state sovereignty.


Impact Several other recent cases limit federal power without expressly relying upon the Tenth Amendment. United States v. Lopez struck down federal laws of the Commerce Clause. To the extent that the Tenth Amendment is a principle of enumerated federal power, those decisions implicate the Tenth Amendment, as does every decision involving the scope of federal power. 10th Amendment THE END!
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