On March 31st, American University’s YAL members gathered for a discussion on the Supreme Court’s past, present, and future led by the CATO Institute’s Congressional Research Center Fellow Trevor Burrus. Burrus opened discussion by educating chapter members on the history of the commerce clause, from Gibbons v. Ogden through King v. Burwell. His speech focused mostly on the commerce clause and other barriers to economic liberty enacted and upheld by the courts during the New Deal era.
According to Burrus, Wickard v. Filburn, which allowed the federal government to regulate the “effects of interstate commerce,” granted unlimited unconstitutional power to regulate commerce within state borders, until CATO scholars defeated its logic in Burwell.
After Burrus concluded, he opened questions to members. Sophomore Alex Russo asked Burrus to describe the legal history of business licensing. President John Nagle asked about Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland’s impact on the future court’s ideology, if selected. Burrus gave details answers for both answers, citing the ridiculous history of destructive licensing laws like Louisiana’s florist requirements and Justice Garland’s authoritarian legal history.
Afterwards, President Nagle passed out clipboard signups for the upcoming executive board election. He also distributed a signup sheet for a social bowling event with Americans for Prosperity that will occur on April 9.