Saturday, May 05, 2012

Filburn as the fulcrum of federal power

Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), is shaping up as the most important agricultural law case ever decided by the Supreme Court. Indeed, threescore and ten years after being decided, Filburn has become the fulcrum on which federal power hinges. From the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune:

Roscoe Filburn

If Roscoe Filburn were alive today, the indignity of it might be more than he could bear.

The fifth-generation Ohio farmer didn't much like it when the government told him what to do, told him how much wheat he could grow or how much he could consume.

Now that same government is telling Americans what to buy. It's saying they have to purchase health insurance — and it's doing so in Filburn's name, justifying the action based on the 1942 Supreme Court case he lost.

The 70-year-old ruling in Wickard v. Filburn provides the legal foundation for the individual mandate — the controversial core of the health care overhaul.

For more coverage on Wickard v. Filburn by Agricultural Law, see these posts by Susan Schneider and Jim Chen. Herewith a brief bibliography of works by Jim Chen on Wickard v. Filburn:

  1. Filburn’s Forgotten Footnote — Of Farm Team Federalism and Its Fate, 82 Minn. L. Rev. 249 (1997)

  2. Filburn's Legacy, 52 Emory L.J. 1719 (2003)

  3. The Story of Wickard v. Filburn: Agriculture, Aggregation, and Commerce, in Constitutional Law Stories 69 (Michael C. Dorf ed., 2d ed., Foundation Press 2009)


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