The Ninth Circuit has today handed down an interesting commerce clause case, United States v. Alderman. From the introduction:
This case of first impression in the Ninth Circuit requires us to consider whether Congress has the authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, art. I, § 8, cl. 3, to criminalize the possession by a felon of body armor that has been “sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce.” 18 U.S.C. §§ 931 and 921(a)(35). Put another way, the issue is whether the sale of body armor in interstate commerce creates a sufficient nexus between possession of the body armor and commerce to allow for federal regulation under Congress’s Commerce Clause authority.
Judge McKeown, joined by Betty Fletcher, conclude that the statute “passes muster.” Judge Paez dissented, becoming a friend of federalism in the Judge Reinhardt sense:
In my view, felon-possession of body armor does not have a substantial effect on interstate commerce; its prohibition under 18 U.S.C. § 931 neither regulates commerce or any sort of economic enterprise nor regulates intrastate, non-economic activity that is essential to a comprehensive federal regulatory scheme.
Notably, the case has been in the hopper for a while: It was argued 14 months to the day before it was handed down.