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States’ ‘Reserved Powers’ Include Right To Regulate Its Employees


In National League of Cities v. Usery, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act cannot be extended to cover all state and local employees. Although the fair labor law is a proper exercise of the federal government’s commerce clause power, the Court rules that the 10th Amendment requires the states to keep control over their own operations, and that the wage and hour requirements for government employees are part of such operations. The Court will overrule Usery nine years later, in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Authority.