William Rehnquist’s Opinion in United States v. Lopez(1995)
After respondent, then a 12th-grade student, carried a concealed handgun into his high school, he was charged with violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which forbids “any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that [he] knows … is a school zone,” 18 U. S. C. 922(q)(1)(A). The District Court denied his motion to dismiss the indictment, concluding that 922(q) is a constitutional exercise of Congress’ power to regulate activities in and affecting commerce. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that, in light of what it characterized as insufficient congressional findings and legislative history, 922(q) is invalid as beyond Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause.
The Act exceeds Congress’ Commerce Clause authority. First, although this Court has upheld a wide variety of congressional Acts regulating intrastate economic activity that substantially affected interstate commerce, the possession of a gun in a local school zone is in no sense an...
William Rehnquist (Library of Congress)View Full Size