Can the Interstate Commerce Clause be used by the federal government to regulate a product or service because it crosses State line?
Let us see if we can walk through this question in short order. Article I, Sec.8, clause 3, U.S. Constitution, says,
“The Congress shall have Power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
What does “regulate Commerce among the several States” mean?
First: What is “commerce”? Because words change meaning throughout time [“gay” once meant “jovial and lighthearted”], we must consult an old dictionary. Webster’s American Dictionary (1828) defines commerce as:
“…an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals… by barter, or by purchase and sale; trade; traffick… inland commerce…is the trade in the exchange of commodities between citizens of the same nation or state.”
So! “Commerce” is the buying and selling of goods.
Now, we must find out what “regulate Commerce among the several States” means.
Two readily available authorities tell us: The Federalist Papers (#22, #42, #44, & #56), and The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 kept by James Madison. Refer here for more: https://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/82/
These authorities prove that the purposes of the “interstate commerce” clause are (1) to prohibit the States from imposing tolls and tariffs on articles of import and export – goods & commodities – merchandize – as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling; and (2) to permit the federal government to impose duties on imports and exports, both inland and abroad.
So! The evidence is ample, clear and unambiguous! The clause is not a blank check for Congress to fill out any way it wants!