#2: Read the Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs.

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Morrison (2000). The question presented to the Supreme

Court was:

Does Congress have the authority to enact the Violence

case. Against Women Act of 1994 under either the Commerce

Clause or Fourteenth Amendment?

The Supreme Court considered a suit brought by a former

student of Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Brzonkala) who

alleged two university athletes raped her. The defendant

players and university argued that the Violence Against

Women Act, which allowed victims of gender


violence to bring federal civil suits for damages (a federal

cause of action), was unconstitutional under the Commerce

Clause. The Court agreed with the defendants, in concluding

that Congress must distinguish between “what is truly

national and what is truly local”–and that its power under

the Commerce Clause reaches only the former.

In a one to two page (single spaced) response answer the

following questions:

1. Why did Ms. Brzonkala, a Pennsylvania resident, file

suit in U.S. District Court Eastern District of

Pennsylvania (federal court) instead of state court?

2. Did the Supreme Court find that the section of the

Violence Against Woman Act allowing a cause of

action to bring a federal civil suit for damages

violated the Fourteenth Amendment?

3. Do you believe the Supreme Court made the right

decision? If so, why. If not, why not?

4. Some constitutional scholars say that the Commerce

Clause of the United States Constitution is the most

important power conveyed upon Congress. The

United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8 states:

“the Congress shall have Power…To regulate

Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the

several States, and with the Indian Tribes (the

“Commerce Clause”).” Do you believe the scholars

are right? Why or why not?

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