Federal Centralization: A Study and Criticism of the Expanding Scope of Congressional Legislation

By Walter Thompson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
ECONOMIC LEGISLATION--HISTORY AND METHODS

IT is impossible in a single volume to give an adequate consideration to such large and intricate subjects as railroads, trusts, corporations, and labor. However, it should be noted that whatever legislation has been enacted by Congress affecting these subjects has received its constitutional authorization mainly from the commerce clause. Through its power to regulate interstate commerce, Congress has minutely regulated the railroads of the country, prohibiting disapproved practices, fixing rates, prescribing safety appliances, and regulating conditions of labor employed in interstate commerce. Congress has made it criminal to enter into certain commercial agreements. Corporations have been protected in their interstate trade from adverse state laws. The activities of labor organizations have been restricted by federal legislation. Such legislation has extended the power of the federal government into the province of the states, and this federal expansion has necessarily had a more or less restraining influence on the power of the states over these subjects.

The aggressive policy of the federal government towards the railroads and trade combinations is a comparatively recent development and has resulted from the complexities of modern commerce and industry. The framers of the Constitution could have had no concept of the magnitude of modern business organization. Mr.

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