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The division of power between national, state, and local governments is complex and not always clear. Explore these Supreme Court cases to learn how the court has interpreted this important political principle.

Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

The Court ruled that under the Tenth Amendment, only the states and not the federal government could regulate child labor (on the grounds that manufacturing is not commerce and not subject to federal regulation). Read More.

South Dakota v. Dole (1987)

A federal law that would withhold 5 percent of a state’s highway funds if it did not raise its minimum drinking age to 21 was ruled constitutional. The Court believed it was passed in the interest of the general good and by reasonable means. Read More.

United States v. Lopez (1995)

The Court ruled that the Commerce Clause did not give Congress the power to enact the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. Read More.

United States v. Morrison (2000)

The Supreme Court ruled that neither the Commerce Clause nor the Fourteenth Amendment gave Congress the power to enact the Violence Against Women Act. Read More.

Raich v. Gonzalez (2005)

A California law allowing citizens to grow marijuana for personal, medical use was overruled by a federal law declaring marijuana an illegal substance, because the Court held that personal marijuana growth was related to interstate commerce and therefore Congress had the authority to ban it under the Commerce Clause. Read More.

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