Thursday, July 19, 2012

Teaching the Commerce Clause After NFIB v. Sebelius

Professor Colin Starger has a terrific visual for teaching the commerce clause next semester:

Screen Shot 2012-07-18 at 7.31.01 PM

Take a look at the entire "poster" available on ssrn here; the explanations are necessary and excellent.


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I am manifestly not intelligent enough to understand how this poster would aid in understanding or teaching about the Commerce Power. Would you consider asking Professor Starger to provide a more detailed explanation on that point? I did not see any additional material on the SSRN link (beyond that in the .pdf file itself). Is this type of mapping commonplace in the upper echelons of legal academia? Perhaps some references would direct the ignorant to the appropriate materials? Thank you.

Posted by: Jeffrey G. Purvis | Jul 20, 2012 2:35:55 PM

Hi Jeffrey:

I hope the poster can aid in understanding and teaching about the Commerce Power by highlighting the most influential Commerce opinions in the current debate and the connections between them. This allows the reader/teacher to trace the origins of the competing traditions that provide the doctrinal basis for the conflicting opinions by Roberts and Ginsburg in NFIB v, Sebelius. Hopefully, the little case squibs at the bottom of the poster flesh out some basic details on the competing opinions.

The map idea is my own; I created it using custom software I designed. If you are interested in a full-length discussion of the theory behind the maps, you can check out two articles on my SSRN page ("Exile on Main Street" and "Expanding Stare Decisis"). I will be conducting a limited Beta release of the software this Fall for anyone interested in making their own Supreme Court opinion maps.

Please let me know if this explanation is not satisfactory. I am more than happy to continue discussion directly. My email is

Warm regards,

Posted by: Colin Starger | Jul 24, 2012 1:30:42 PM

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