Foreword: Limiting Raich

11 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2005


In Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the Controlled Substance Act, as applied to the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes as recommended by a physician and authorized by state law. The challenge relied on the precedents of United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison in which the Court had found that the statutes involved had exceeded the powers of Congress under the Commerce Clause. As explained by the articles in the symposium in which this Foreword will appear, the Court in Raich has now cast the applicability of these previous decisions into doubt. In this brief essay, I offer a route by which a future majority of the Supreme Court can limit the scope of its decision in Gonzales v. Raich should it desire to put its commitment to federalism above a commitment to national power. Viewed in this light, the decision in Raich is not quite as sweeping as it first appears.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Copntrolled Substance Act, Gonzales v. Raich, U.S. v. Lopez, U.S. v. Morrison, the Commerce Clause, federalism

JEL Classification: K14, K3, K40

Suggested Citation

Barnett, Randy E., Foreword: Limiting Raich. Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 9; Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 05-21. Available at SSRN:

Randy E. Barnett (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9936 (Phone)


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