MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Nearly 40 years ago Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act,
The original Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938 specifically excluded the States and their political sub-divisions from its coverage.
In a series of amendments beginning in 1961 Congress began to extend the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act to some types of public employees. The 1961 amendments to the Act
In 1974, Congress again broadened the coverage of the Act, 88 Stat. 55. The definition of "employer" in the Act now specifically "includes a public agency," 29 U. S. C. § 203 (d) (1970 ed., Supp. IV). In addition, the critical definition of "[e]nterprise[s] engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce" was expanded to encompass "an activity of a public agency," and goes on to specify that
Under the amendments "[p]ublic agency" is in turn defined as including
By its 1974 amendments, then, Congress has now entirely removed the exemption previously afforded States and their political subdivisions, substituting only the Act's general exemption for executive, administrative, or professional
Challenging these 1974 amendments in the District Court, appellants sought both declaratory and injunctive relief against the amendments' application to them, and a three-judge court was accordingly convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2282. That court, after hearing argument on the law from the parties, granted appellee Secretary of Labor's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief might be granted. The District Court stated it was "troubled" by appellants' contentions that the amendments would intrude upon the States' performance of essential governmental functions. The court went on to say that it considered their contentions.
It is established beyond peradventure that the Commerce Clause of Art. I of the Constitution is a grant of plenary authority to Congress. That authority is, in the words of Mr. Chief Justice Marshall in Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1 (1824), "the power to regulate; that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed." Id., at 196.
When considering the validity of asserted applications of this power to wholly private activity, the Court has made it clear that
Congressional power over areas of private endeavor, even when its exercise may pre-empt express state-law determinations contrary to the result which has commended itself to the collective wisdom of Congress, has been held to be limited only by the requirement that "the means chosen by [Congress] must be reasonably adapted to the end permitted by the Constitution." Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 379 U.S. 241, 262 (1964).
In New York v. United States, 326 U.S. 572 (1946), Mr. Chief Justice Stone, speaking for four Members of an eight-Member Court
In Metcalf & Eddy v. Mitchell, 269 U.S. 514 (1926), the Court likewise observed that "neither government may destroy the other nor curtail in any substantial manner the exercise of its powers." Id., at 523.
Appellee Secretary argues that the cases in which this Court has upheld sweeping exercises of authority by Congress, even though those exercises pre-empted state regulation
One undoubted attribute of state sovereignty is the State's power to determine the wages which shall be paid to those whom they employ in order to carry out their governmental functions, what hours those persons will work, and what compensation will be provided where these employees may be called upon to work overtime. The question we must resolve here, then, is whether these determinations are " `functions essential to separate and independent existence,' " id., at 580, quoting from Lane County v. Oregon, supra, at 76, so that Congress
In their complaint appellants advanced estimates of substantial costs which will be imposed upon them by the 1974 amendments. Since the District Court dismissed their complaint, we take its well-pleaded allegations as true, although it appears from appellee's submissions in the District Court and in this Court that resolution of the factual disputes as to the effect of the amendments is not critical to our disposition of the case.
Judged solely in terms of increased costs in dollars, these allegations show a significant impact on the functioning of the governmental bodies involved. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn., for example, asserted that the Act will increase its costs of providing essential police and fire protection, without any increase in service or in current salary levels, by $938,000 per year. Cape Girardeau, Mo., estimated that its annual budget for fire protection may have to be increased by anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000 over the current figure of $350,000. The State of Arizona alleged that the annual additional expenditures which will be required if it is to continue to provide essential state services may total $2.5 million. The State of California, which must devote significant portions of its budget to fire-suppression endeavors, estimated that application of the Act to its employment practices will necessitate an increase in its budget of between $8 million and $16 million.
Increased costs are not, of course, the only adverse effects which compliance with the Act will visit upon state and local governments, and in turn upon the citizens who depend upon those governments. In its complaint in intervention, for example, California asserted that it could not comply with the overtime costs (approximately
This type of forced relinquishment of important governmental activities is further reflected in the complaint's allegation that the city of Inglewood, Cal., has been forced to curtail its affirmative action program for providing employment opportunities for men and women interested in a career in law enforcement. The Inglewood police department has abolished a program for police trainees who split their week between on-the-job training and the classroom. The city could not abrogate its contractual obligations to these trainees, and it concluded that compliance with the Act in these circumstances was too financially burdensome to permit continuance of the classroom program. The city of Clovis, Cal., has been put to a similar choice regarding an internship program it was running in cooperation with a California state university. According to the complaint, because the interns' compensation brings them within the purview of the Act the city must decide whether to eliminate the program entirely or to substantially reduce its beneficial aspects by doing away with any pay for the interns.
Quite apart from the substantial costs imposed upon the States and their political subdivisions, the Act displaces state policies regarding the manner in which they will structure delivery of those governmental services which their citizens require. The Act, speaking directly to the States qua States, requires that they shall pay
This dilemma presented by the minimum wage restrictions may seem not immediately different from that faced by private employers, who have long been covered by the Act and who must find ways to increase their gross income if they are to pay higher wages while
The degree to which the FLSA amendments would interfere with traditional aspects of state sovereignty can be seen even more clearly upon examining the overtime requirements of the Act. The general effect of these provisions is to require the States to pay their employees at premium rates whenever their work exceeds a specified number of hours in a given period. The asserted reason for these provisions is to provide a financial disincentive upon using employees beyond the work period deemed appropriate by Congress. According to appellee:
We do not doubt that this may be a salutary result, and that it has a sufficiently rational relationship to commerce to validate the application of the overtime provisions to private employers. But, like the minimum wage provisions, the vice of the Act as sought to be applied here is that it directly penalizes the States for choosing to hire governmental employees on terms different from those which Congress has sought to impose.
This congressionally imposed displacement of state decisions may substantially restructure traditional ways in which the local governments have arranged their affairs. Although at this point many of the actual effects
Our examination of the effect of the 1974 amendments, as sought to be extended to the States and their political subdivisions, satisfies us that both the minimum wage and the maximum hour provisions will impermissibly interfere with the integral governmental functions of these bodies. We earlier noted some disagreement between the parties regarding the precise effect the amendments will have in application. We do not believe particularized assessments of actual impact are crucial to resolution of the issue presented, however. For even if we accept appellee's assessments concerning the impact of the amendments, their application will nonetheless significantly alter or displace the States' abilities to structure employer-employee relationships in such areas as fire prevention, police protection, sanitation, public health, and parks and recreation. These activities are typical of those performed by state and local governments in discharging their dual functions of administering the public law and furnishing public services.
One final matter requires our attention. Appellee has vigorously urged that we cannot, consistently with the Court's decisions in Maryland v. Wirtz, 392 U.S. 183 (1968), and Fry, supra, rule against him here. It is important to examine this contention so that it will be clear what we hold today, and what we do not.
With regard to Fry, we disagree with appellee. There the Court held that the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 was constitutional as applied to temporarily freeze the wages of state and local government employees. The Court expressly noted that the degree of intrusion upon the protected area of state sovereignty was in that case
We think our holding today quite consistent with Fry. The enactment at issue there was occasioned by an extremely serious problem which endangered the well-being of all the component parts of our federal system and which only collective action by the National Government might forestall. The means selected were carefully drafted so as not to interfere with the States' freedom beyond a very limited, specific period of time. The effect of the across-the-board freeze authorized by that Act, moreover, displaced no state choices as to how governmental operations should be structured, nor did it force the States to remake such choices themselves. Instead, it merely required that the wage scales and employment relationships which the States themselves had chosen be maintained during the period of the emergency. Finally, the Economic Stabilization Act operated to reduce the pressures upon state budgets rather than increase them. These factors distinguish the statute in Fry from the provisions at issue here. The limits imposed upon the commerce power when Congress seeks to apply it to the States are not so inflexible as to preclude temporary enactments tailored to combat a national emergency. "[A]lthough an emergency may not call into life a power which has never lived, nevertheless emergency may afford a reason for the exertion of a living power already enjoyed." Wilson v. New, 243 U.S. 332, 348 (1917).
With respect to the Court's decision in Wirtz, we reach a different conclusion. Both appellee and the District Court thought that decision required rejection of appellants'
Wirtz relied heavily on the Court's decision in United States v. California, 297 U.S. 175 (1936). The opinion quotes the following language from that case:
But we have reaffirmed today that the States as States stand on a quite different footing from an individual or a corporation when challenging the exercise of Congress' power to regulate commerce. We think the dicta
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring.
The Court's opinion and the dissents indicate the importance and significance of this litigation as it bears upon the relationship between the Federal Government and our States. Although I am not untroubled by certain possible implications of the Court's opinion—some of them suggested by the dissents—I do not read the opinion so despairingly as does my Brother BRENNAN. In my view, the result with respect to the statute under challenge here is necessarily correct. I may misinterpret the Court's opinion, but it seems to me that it adopts a balancing approach, and does not outlaw federal power in areas such as environmental protection, where the federal interest is demonstrably greater and where state facility compliance with imposed federal standards would be essential. See ante, at 852-853. With this understanding on my part of the Court's opinion, I join it.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom MR. JUSTICE WHITE and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL join, dissenting.
The Court concedes, as of course it must, that Congress enacted the 1974 amendments pursuant to its exclusive power under Art. I, § 8, cl. 3, of the Constitution
Only 34 years ago, Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 120 (1942), reaffirmed that "[a]t the beginning Chief Justice Marshall . . . made emphatic the embracing and penetrating nature of [Congress' commerce] power by
My Brethren do not successfully obscure today's patent usurpation of the role reserved for the political process by their purported discovery in the Constitution of a restraint derived from sovereignty of the States on Congress' exercise of the commerce power. Mr. Chief Justice Marshall recognized that limitations "prescribed in the constitution," Gibbons v. Ogden, supra, at 196, restrain Congress' exercise of the power. See Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184, 191 (1964); Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294, 305 (1964); United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 114 (1941). Thus laws within the commerce power may not infringe individual liberties protected by the First Amendment, Mabee v. White Plains Publishing Co., 327 U.S. 178 (1946); the Fifth Amendment, Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969); or the Sixth Amendment, United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570 (1968). But there is no restraint based on state sovereignty requiring or permitting judicial enforcement anywhere expressed in the Constitution; our decisions over the last century and a half have explicitly rejected the existence of any such restraint on the commerce power.
"[It] is not a controversy between equals" when the Federal Government "is asserting its sovereign power to regulate commerce . . . . [T]he interests of the nation are more important than those of any State." Sanitary District v. United States, 266 U.S. 405, 425-426 (1925). The commerce power "is an affirmative power commensurate with the national needs." North American Co. v. SEC, 327 U.S. 686, 705 (1946). The Constitution reserves to the States "only . . . . that authority which is consistent with and not opposed to the grant to Congress. There is no room in our scheme of government for the assertion of state power in hostility to the authorized
My Brethren thus have today manufactured an abstraction without substance, founded neither in the words of the Constitution nor on precedent. An abstraction having such profoundly pernicious consequences is not made less so by characterizing the 1974 amendments as legislation directed against the "States qua States." Ante, at 847. See ante, at 845, 854. Of course, regulations that this Court can say are not regulations of "commerce" cannot stand, Santa Cruz Fruit Packing Co. v. NLRB, 303 U.S. 453, 466 (1938), and in this sense "[t]he Court has ample power to prevent . . . `the utter destruction of the State as a sovereign political entity.' " Maryland v. Wirtz, 392 U.S. 183, 196 (1968).
The reliance of my Brethren upon the Tenth Amendment as "an express declaration of [a state sovereignty] limitation," ante, at 842,
My Brethren purport to find support for their novel state-sovereignty doctrine in the concurring opinion of Mr. Chief Justice Stone in New York v. United States, 326 U.S. 572, 586 (1946). That reliance is plainly misplaced. That case presented the question whether the Constitution either required immunity of New York State's mineral water business from federal taxation or denied to the Federal Government power to lay the tax. The Court sustained the federal tax. Mr. Chief Justice Stone observed in his concurring opinion that "a federal tax which is not discriminatory as to the subject matter may nevertheless so affect the State, merely because it is a State that is being taxed, as to interfere unduly with the State's performance of its sovereign functions of government." Id., at 587. But the Chief Justice was addressing not the question of a state-sovereignty restraint upon the exercise of the commerce power, but rather the principle of implied immunity of the States
In contrast, the apposite decision that Term to the question whether the Constitution implies a state-sovereignty restraint upon congressional exercise of the commerce power is Case v. Bowles, 327 U.S. 92 (1946). The question there was whether the Emergency Price Control Act could apply to the sale by the State of Washington of timber growing on lands granted by Congress to the State for the support of common schools. The State contended that "there is a doctrine implied in the Federal Constitution that `the two governments, national and state, are each to exercise its powers so as not to interfere with the free and full exercise of the powers of the other' . . . [and] that the Act cannot be applied to this sale because it was `for the purpose of gaining revenue to carry out an essential governmental function—the education of its citizens.' " Id., at 101. The Court emphatically rejected that argument, in an opinion joined by Mr. Chief Justice Stone, reasoning:
To argue, as do my Brethren, that the 1974 amendments are directed at the "States qua States," and "displac[e] state policies regarding the manner in which they will structure delivery of those governmental services which their citizens require," ante, at 847, and therefore "directly penaliz[e] the States for choosing to hire governmental employees on terms different from those which Congress has sought to impose," ante, at 849, is only to advance precisely the unsuccessful arguments made by the State of Washington in Case v. Bowles and the State of California in United States v. California. The 1974 amendments are, however, an entirely legitimate exercise of the commerce power, not in the slightest restrained by any doctrine of state sovereignty cognizable in this Court, as Case v. Bowles, United States v. California, Maryland v. Wirtz, and our other pertinent precedents squarely and definitively establish. Moreover, since Maryland v. Wirtz is overruled, the Fair Labor Standards Act is invalidated in its application to all state employees "in [any areas] that the States have regarded as integral parts of their governmental activities." Ante, at 854 n. 18. This standard is a meaningless limitation on the Court's state-sovereignty doctrine, and thus today's holding goes beyond even what the States of Washington and California urged in Case v. Bowles and United States v. California, and by its logic would overrule those cases and with them Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184 (1964), and certain reasoning in Employees v. Missouri Public Health Dept., 411 U.S. 279, 284-285 (1973). I cannot recall another instance in the Court's history when the reasoning of so many decisions covering so long a span of time has been
My Brethren's treatment of Fry v. United States, 421 U.S. 542 (1975), further illustrates the paucity of legal reasoning or principle justifying today's result. Although the Economic Stabilization Act "displace[d] the States' freedom," ante, at 852—the reason given for invalidating the 1974 amendments—the result in Fry is not disturbed since the interference was temporary and only a national program enforced by the Federal Government could have alleviated the country's economic crisis. Thus, although my Brethren by fiat strike down the 1974 amendments without analysis of countervailing national considerations, Fry by contrary logic remains undisturbed because, on balance, countervailing national considerations override the interference with the State's freedom. Moreover, it is sophistry to say the Economic Stabilization Act "displaced no state choices," ante, at 853, but that the 1974 amendments do, ante, at 848. Obviously the Stabilization Act—no less than every exercise of a national power delegated to Congress by the Constitution —displaced the State's freedom. It is absurd to suggest that there is a constitutionally significant distinction between curbs against increasing wages and curbs against paying wages lower than the federal minimum.
Today's holding patently is in derogation of the sovereign power of the Nation to regulate interstate commerce. Can the States engage in businesses competing with the private sector and then come to the courts arguing that withdrawing the employees of those businesses from the private sector evades the power of the Federal Government to regulate commerce? See New York v.
Also devoid of meaningful content is my Brethren's argument that the 1974 amendments "displac[e] State policies." Ante, at 847. The amendments neither impose policy objectives on the States nor deny the States complete freedom to fix their own objectives. My Brethren boldly assert that the decision as to wages and hours is an "undoubted attribute of state sovereignty,"
Certainly the paradigm of sovereign action—action qua State—is in the enactment and enforcement of state laws. Is it possible that my Brethren are signaling abandonment of the heretofore unchallenged principle that Congress "can, if it chooses, entirely displace the States to the full extent of the far-reaching Commerce Clause"? Bethlehem Steel Co. v. New York State Board, 330 U.S. 767, 780 (1947) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.). Indeed, that principle sometimes invalidates state laws regulating subject matter of national importance even when Congress has been silent. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1 (1824); see Sanitary District v. United States, 266 U. S., at 426. In either case the ouster of state laws obviously curtails or prohibits the States' prerogatives to make policy choices respecting subjects clearly of greater significance to the "State qua State" than the minimum wage paid to state employees. The Supremacy Clause dictates this result under "the federal system of government embodied in the Constitution." Ante, at 852.
My Brethren do more than turn aside longstanding constitutional jurisprudence that emphatically rejects today's conclusion. More alarming is the startling restructuring of our federal system, and the role they create therein for the federal judiciary. This Court is simply not at liberty to erect a mirror of its own conception of a desirable governmental structure. If the 1974 amendments
It is unacceptable that the judicial process should be thought superior to the political process in this area. Under the Constitution the Judiciary has no role to play beyond finding that Congress has not made an unreasonable legislative judgment respecting what is "commerce." My Brother BLACKMUN suggests that controlling judicial supervision of the relationship between the States and our National Government by use of a balancing approach diminishes the ominous implications of today's decision. Such an approach, however, is a thinly veiled rationalization for judicial supervision of a policy judgment that our system of government reserves to Congress.
Judicial restraint in this area merely recognizes that the political branches of our Government are structured to protect the interests of the States, as well as the Nation as a whole, and that the States are fully able to protect their own interests in the premises. Congress is constituted of representatives in both the Senate and House elected from the States. The Federalist No. 45, pp. 311-312, No. 46, pp. 317-318 (J. Cooke ed. 1961) (J. Madison). Decisions upon the extent of federal intervention under the Commerce Clause into the affairs of the States are in that sense decisions of the States themselves. Judicial redistribution of powers granted the National Government by the terms of the Constitution violates the fundamental tenet of our federalism
A sense of the enormous impact of States' political power is gained by brief reference to the federal budget. The largest estimate by any of the appellants of the cost impact of the 1974 amendments—$1 billion—pales in comparison with the financial assistance the States receive from the Federal Government. In fiscal 1977 the President's proposed budget recommends $60.5 billion in federal assistance to the States, exclusive of loans. Office of Management and Budget, Special Analyses: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1977, p. 255. Appellants complain of the impact of the amended FLSA on police and fire departments, but the 1977 budget contemplates outlays for law enforcement assistance of $716 million. Id., at 258. Concern is also expressed about the diminished ability to hire students in the summer if States must pay them a minimum wage, but the Federal Government's "summer youth program" provides $400 million for 670,000 jobs. Ibid. Given this demonstrated ability to obtain funds from the Federal Government for needed state services, there is little doubt that the States' influence in the political process is adequate to safeguard their sovereignty.
No effort is made to distinguish the FLSA amendments sustained in Wirtz from the 1974 amendments. We are told at the outset that "the `far-reaching implications' of Wirtz should be overruled," ante, at 840; later it is said that the "reasoning in Wirtz" is no longer "authoritative," ante, at 854. My Brethren then merely restate their essential-function test and say that Wirtz must "therefore" be overruled. Ante, at 855-856. There is no analysis whether Wirtz reached the correct result, apart from any flaws in reasoning, even though we are told that "there are obvious differences" between this case and Wirtz. Ante, at 855.
We are left then with a catastrophic judicial body blow at Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. Even if Congress may nevertheless accomplish its objectives— for example, by conditioning grants of federal funds upon compliance with federal minimum wage and overtime standards, cf. Oklahoma v. CSC, 330 U.S. 127, 144 (1947)—there is an ominous portent of disruption of our constitutional structure implicit in today's mischievous decision. I dissent.
MR. JUSTICE STEVENS, dissenting.
The Court holds that the Federal Government may not interfere with a sovereign State's inherent right to pay a substandard wage to the janitor at the state capitol. The principle on which the holding rests is difficult to perceive.
The Federal Government may, I believe, require the State to act impartially when it hires or fires the janitor, to withhold taxes from his paycheck, to observe safety regulations when he is performing his job, to forbid him from burning too much soft coal in the capitol furnace, from dumping untreated refuse in an adjacent waterway, from overloading a state-owned garbage truck, or from driving either the truck or the Governor's limousine over 55 miles an hour. Even though these and many other
I agree that it is unwise for the Federal Government to exercise its power in the ways described in the Court's opinion. For the proposition that regulation of the minimum price of a commodity—even labor—will increase the quantity consumed is not one that I can readily understand. That concern, however, applies with even greater force to the private sector of the economy where the exclusion of the marginally employable does the greatest harm and, in all events, merely reflects my views on a policy issue which has been firmly resolved by the branches of government having power to decide such questions. As far as the complexities of adjusting police and fire departments to this sort of federal control are concerned, I presume that appropriate tailor-made regulations would soon solve their most pressing problems. After all, the interests adversely affected by this legislation are not without political power.
My disagreement with the wisdom of this legislation may not, of course, affect my judgment with respect to its validity. On this issue there is no dissent from the proposition that the Federal Government's power over the labor market is adequate to embrace these employees. Since I am unable to identify a limitation on that federal power that would not also invalidate federal regulation of state activities that I consider unquestionably permissible, I am persuaded that this statute is valid. Accordingly, with respect and a great deal of sympathy for the views expressed by the Court, I dissent from its constitutional holding.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by William J. Baxley, Attorney General of Alabama, John D. MacFarlane, Attorney General of Colorado, Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General of Michigan, and Warren R. Spannous, Attorney General of Minnesota, for the State of Alabama et al.; by Robert E. Nagle for Harrison A. Williams, Jr., et al.; by J. Albert Woll, Laurence Gold, Robert H. Chanin, and George Kaufmann for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; by Mr. Kaufmann for the Coalition of American Public Employees; by Jerome K. Tankel for the International Conference of Police Assns.; and by Harry Lewis Michaels for the Florida Police Benevolent Assn.
" `Employer' includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee but shall not include the United States or any State or political subdivision of a State . . . ."
In view of the fact that the appellants include sovereign States and their political subdivisions to which application of the 1974 amendments is claimed to be unconstitutional, we need not consider whether the organizational appellants had standing to challenge the Act. See California Bankers Assn. v. Shultz, 416 U.S. 21, 44-45 (1974).
In Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 (1926), the Court held that Congress could not by law limit the authority of the President to remove at will an officer of the Executive Branch appointed by him. In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), the Court held that Congress could not constitutionally require that members of the Federal Elections Commission be appointed by officers of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, and that all such appointments had to be made by the President. In each of these cases, an even stronger argument than that made in the dissent could be made to the effect that since each of these bills had been signed by the President, the very officer who challenged them had consented to their becoming law, and it was therefore no concern of this Court that the law violated the Constitution. Just as the dissent contends that "the States are fully able to protect their own interests . . . ," post, at 876, it could have been contended that the President, armed with the mandate of a national constituency and with the veto power, was able to protect his own interests. Nonetheless, in both cases the laws were held unconstitutional, because they trenched on the authority of the Executive Branch.
For the same reasons, despite MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN'S claims to the contrary, the holdings in Parden v. Terminal R. Co., 377 U.S. 184 (1964), and California v. Taylor, 353 U.S. 553 (1957), are likewise unimpaired by our decision today. It also seems appropriate to note that Case v. Bowles, 327 U.S. 92 (1946), has not been overruled as the dissent asserts. Indeed that decision, upon which our Brother heavily relies, has no direct application to the questions we consider today at all. For there the Court sustained an application of the Emergency Price Control Act to a sale of timber by the State of Washington, expressly noting that the "only question is whether the State's power to make the sales must be in subordination to the power of Congress to fix maximum prices in order to carry on war." Id., at 102. The Court rejected the State's claim of immunity on the ground that sustaining it would impermissibly "impair a prime purpose of the Federal Government's establishment." Ibid. Nothing we say in this opinion addresses the scope of Congress' authority under its war power. Cf. n. 17, supra.
"But while the commerce power has limits, valid general regulations of commerce do not cease to be regulations of commerce because a State is involved. If a State is engaging in economic activities that are validly regulated by the Federal Government when engaged in by private persons, the State too may be forced to conform its activities to federal regulation." 392 U. S., at 196-197.
It is clear, then, that this Court's "ample power" to prevent the destruction of the States was not found in Wirtz to result from some affirmative limit on the exercise of the commerce power, but rather in the Court's function of limiting congressional exercise of its power to regulation of "commerce."
Decisions expressly rejecting today's interpretation of the Tenth Amendment also include Sperry v. Florida ex rel. Florida Bar, 373 U.S. 379, 403 (1963); Oklahoma v. CSC, 330 U.S. 127, 143 (1947); Case v. Bowles, 327 U.S. 92, 102 (1946); Fernandez v. Wiener, 326 U.S. 340, 362 (1945); Oklahoma ex rel. Phillips v. Atkinson Co., 313 U.S. 508, 534 (1941); United States v. Sprague, 282 U.S. 716, 733-734 (1931).
Even more significantly, Mr. Justice Frankfurter pointed out that the existence of a state immunity from federal taxation, to the extent that it was based on any vague sovereignty notions, was inconsistent with the holding in United States v. California, 297 U.S. 175 (1936), that state sovereignty does not restrict federal exercise of the commerce power. 326 U. S., at 582.
"Another reason [for narrowly limiting state sovereignty restrictions on the power to tax] rests upon the fact that any allowance of a tax immunity for the protection of state sovereignty is at the expense of the sovereign power of the nation to tax. Enlargement of the one involves diminution of the other. When enlargement proceeds beyond the necessity of protecting the state, the burden of the immunity is thrown upon the national government with benefit only to a privileged class of taxpayers. See Metcalf & Eddy v. Mitchell, 269 U.S. 514 ; cf. Thomson v. Pacific Railroad, 9 Wall. 579, 588, 590 . With the steady expansion of the activity of state governments into new fields they have undertaken the performance of functions not known to the states when the Constitution was adopted, and have taken over the management of business enterprises once conducted exclusively by private individuals subject to the national taxing power. In a complex economic society tax burdens laid upon those who directly or indirectly have dealings with the states, tend, to some extent not capable of precise measurement, to be passed on economically and thus to burden the state government itself. But if every federal tax which is laid on some new form of state activity, or whose economic burden reaches in some measure the state or those who serve it, were to be set aside as an infringement of state sovereignty, it is evident that a restriction upon national power, devised only as a shield to protect the states from curtailment of the essential operations of government which they have exercised from the beginning, would become a ready means for striking down the taxing power of the nation. See South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 454-455 . Once impaired by the recognition of a state immunity found to be excessive, restoration of that power is not likely to be secured through the action of state legislatures; for they are without the inducements to act which have often persuaded Congress to waive immunities thought to be excessive." Helvering v. Gerhardt, 304 U. S., at 416-417 (footnote omitted).
"Such matters raise not constitutional issues but questions of policy. They relate to the wisdom, need, and effectiveness of a particular project. They are therefore questions for the Congress, not the courts." Oklahoma ex rel. Phillips v. Atkinson Co., 313 U. S., at 527. See Employees v. Missouri Public Health Dept., 411 U.S. 279 284 (1973). Although my Brethren accept for present purposes the well-pleaded allegations of appellants' complaint, I note that the Secretary vigorously argues in this Court that appellants' cost allegations are greatly exaggerated and based on misinterpretations of the 1974 amendments. For example, the executive vice president of the National League of Cities stated in a deposition that the federal minimum wage would have little impact on city budgets since "most cities were already in compliance." App. 124. My Brethren's concern about the use of volunteers is also unfounded. No provision proscribes the use of volunteers or regulates their compensation in any way. Indeed, the Department of Labor's regulations read the FLSA as providing that payments to individuals below a certain level are presumptive evidence of volunteer status; above that level volunteer status depends on particular circumstances. 29 CFR § 553.11 (1975). That the question whether an individual is an employee or a volunteer might be resolved in the courts has nothing to do with federalism, since Congress has rationally decided to regulate the wages of state employees under the Commerce Clause. The Secretary also maintains that misconceptions permeate the other claims of final impact, such as the failure to account for overtime exemptions for police and fire personnel, 29 U. S. C. § 207 (k) (1970 ed., Supp. IV), but further analysis of appellants' allegations would not be profitable, nor might it even be possible in view of their failure to specify adequately the method of calculating the costs.