United States v. Lopez: The Background
The United States v. Lopez case was the first United States Supreme Court case since the early 1930’s to create laws that limit Congress’s power. The United States v. Lopez case begins with a man named Alfonzo Lopez. Mr. Lopez was a High School Senior in San Antonio, Texas. On March 10th of 1992, Lopez carried a concealed handgun into school. The gun was loaded and Lopez had five backup rounds of ammunition tucked away in his jeans. When Lopez was confronted by police and school officials, he admitted to carrying the gun. The very next day, Alfonzo Lopez was charged with violating federal laws which banned guns on all school properties in the United States. The law Alfonzo Lopez was accused of violating was called the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990.
Alfonzo Lopez appealed his arrest by stating that the creation of the law was unconstitutional. Lopez claimed that the laws went beyond the power of the United States Congress; he believed that Congress was not allowed to create laws that essentially control the public school district. Lopez’s first defense failed; the court ruled that Congress possessed the authority to regulate activities that affected schools throughout the United States.
Alfonzo Lopez was convicted for carrying a weapon on school grounds. He appealed the initial court decision and brought his case to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. Lopez again claimed that the Commerce Clause was a direct violation of the Constitution to the United States. The Fifth Circuit overturned the original conviction by stating the charges and the law itself was beyond the power of Congress. In response to this decision, the United States government then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Government wanted the commerce laws to remain in effect.
United States v. Lopez: The Trial
In the Supreme Court Case, United States v. Lopez, the United States Federal Government’s argument was that the possession of a firearm on or within an educational facility would likely lead to a violent crime. A violent crime ultimately affects the condition of the school and the wellbeing of the population. Because of this, the government believed that the commerce clause should be upheld and practiced.
In United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court backed the previous decision offered by the Court of Appeals. In United States v. Lopez, the United States Supreme Court stated that Congress has the broad power to make laws under the Clause, but these powers were limited and did not extend to the areas of the Lopez case.
United States v. Lopez took place on November 8th, 1994. The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Alfonzo Lopez on April 26th of 1995.