White v. Massachusetts Council of Construction Employers Case Brief

Summary of White v. Massachusetts Council of Construction Employers
S. Ct. 1983

Relevant Facts: The Mayor of Boston issued an executive order requiring all construction projects funded in whole or in part by city funds, or funds the city had authority to administer, should be performed by a work force consisting of at least one-half bona fide residents of Boston.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the city of Boston is directly participating in the marketplace when it provides city funds for building construction ?

Court’s Holding: Yes.

Procedure: S. Ct. Mass. order was unconstitutional. Reversed

Law or Rule(s): Congress shall have the sole power to regulate Commerce. . . .

Court Rationale: The Commerce Cl is a grant of authority to Congress and not a restriction on the authority of that body. The city is a market participant and the C. Cl. imposes no barrier to conditions such as those the city demands for its participation. A significant percentage of funds affected by the order are received from Federal sources. Where state and local government action is specifically authorized by Congress, it is not subject to the Commerce Clause even if it interferes with interstate commerce.

Plaintiff’s Argument: White – The implementation of the mayor’s order significantly impacts construction firms who ultimately hire a majority of non-residents of Boston.

Defendant’s Argument: Congress can legislate expenditures of funds without limitation, and the city is a market participant.

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