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Commerce Clause

Agencies And Instrumentalities Of Commerce

Congress, acting pursuant to the Commerce Clause, has the exclusive power to regulate the agencies and instrumentalities of interstate and foreign commerce, such as private and common carriers. A bridge is an instrumentality of interstate commerce when it spans NAVIGABLE WATERS or is used by travelers and merchandise passing across state lines. Navigable waters are instrumentalities of commerce that are subject to the control of federal and state legislation. A bridge over a navigable stream located in a single state is also subject to concurrent control by the state.

An office used in an interstate business is an instrumentality of interstate commerce. Railroads and tracks, terminals, switches, cars, engines, appliances, equipment used as components of a system engaged in interstate traffic, and vessels (including ferries and tugs) are also subject to federal regulation. Warehouses, grain elevators, and other storage facilities also might be considered instrumentalities of interstate commerce. Although local in nature, wharves are related to commerce and are subject to control by Congress, or by the state if Congress has not acted.

The INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT of 1887, which Congress enacted to promote and facilitate commerce by ensuring equitable interaction between carriers and the public, provided for the creation of the INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION. As designated by statute, the commission had jurisdiction and supervision of such carriers and modes of transportation as railroads, express-delivery companies, and sleepingcar companies. Concerning the transportation of persons and property, the commission had the power to enforce the statutory requirement that a certificate of public convenience and necessity be obtained before commencing or terminating a particular transportation service. The commission adopted reasonable and lawful rules and regulations to implement the policies of the law that it administered. The ICC was abolished by Congress in 1995 after Congress deregulated the trucking industry.

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