Funny how it seems
Always in time
But never in line for dreams
Roscoe Filburn was an Ohio farmer who was growing wheat on a 12 acre parcel of his farm. He was not selling the wheat; he was growing it on his own land for personal consumption--for baking bread for his family and for feeding his chickens.
The federal government told Filburn to stop growing wheat, claiming that he was producing wheat in excess of the amount permitted under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. A previous version of the AAA had been ruled unconstitutional by a prior Supreme Court. However, emboldened by turnover in the Court beginning in 1938 that permitted FDR to handpick successors, the FDR administration was at it again.
Filburn sued, claiming that the federal government could not control what he did on his own land. The Commerce Clause granted the government no power in this case, Filburn argued, because no commercial and no interstate activity was taking place.
Incredibly (or perhaps not given that these were FDR's judges), the Supreme Court ruled against Filburn. The court ruled that if farmers were allowed to grow any amount of wheat that they wanted, then their actions in aggregate would affect wheat prices which would, in turn, affect interstate commerce.
Such an interpretation, of course, implies that government could extend regulatory power to no end. Which is precisely what has occured since. Parenthetically, the real issue here is the AAA's power to fix prices, which is totally outside the boundaries of the Constitution and of natural law.
The recently passed healthcare law is grounded on such a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause. As this case will shortly be before the high court, the issue is whether the judges return to first principles of natural law.
If not, then our system careens farther off the rails.