The power of Congress over interstate commerce is plenary and complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution. It follows that no form of state activity can constitutionally thwart the regulatory power granted by the commerce clause to Congress. Hence the reach of that power extends to those intrastate activities which in a substantial way interfere with or obstruct the exercise of the granted power.
Pending a referendum vote of farmers upon wheat quotas proclaimed by the Secretary of Agriculture under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, the Secretary made a radio address in which he advocated approval of the quotas and called attention to the recent enactment by Congress of the amendatory act, later approved May 26, 1941.
Appellee farmer filed a complaint against appellants to enjoin enforcement against himself of the marketing penalty imposed by amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (Act) for violating the quotas set forth in the law. The Appellee farmer only used the produced wheat for personal use and local consumption.
Can Congress regulate intrastate activity under its commerce clause?
It is well established by decisions of this Court that the power to regulate commerce includes the power to regulate the prices at which commodities in that commerce are dealt in and practices affecting such prices. One of the primary purposes of the Act in question was to increase the market price of wheat, and to that end to limit the volume thereof that could affect the market. It can hardly be denied that a factor of such volume and variability as home-consumed wheat would have a substantial influence on price and market conditions. This may arise because being in marketable condition such wheat overhangs the market and, if induced by rising prices, tends to flow into the market and check price increases. But if we assume that it is never marketed, it supplies a need of the man who grew it which would otherwise be reflected by purchases in the open market. Home-grown wheat in this sense competes with wheat in commerce. The stimulation of commerce is a use of the regulatory function quite as definitely as prohibitions or restrictions thereon. This record leaves us in no doubt that Congress may properly have considered that wheat consumed on the farm where grown, if wholly outside the scheme of regulation, would have a substantial effect in defeating and obstructing its purpose to stimulate trade therein at increased prices.