Missouri v. Holland Summary |

– [Narrator] In Missouri verses Holland, the federal government’s
treaty power flew strong when the United States
Supreme Court upheld a statute that protected migratory birds. In 1916, President Woodrow
Wilson entered into a treaty with Great Britain that
provided greater protection for migratory birds. To put the treaty into
effect, Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which prohibited the killing,
capturing, or selling of birds protected by the treaty. Before the bird treaty was negotiated, there was an earlier attempt by Congress to protect migratory birds. Five years earlier, Congress,
without a treaty, had passed a law regulating the
killing of migratory birds, but a District Court
struck down that statute as unconstitutional because
it exceeded Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause. So after that law was invalidated, federal government attempted
to achieve the same result by entering into a treaty
with Great Britain. In response, the state of
Missouri filed a lawsuit alleging that the treaty, as implemented by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was an unconstitutional interference
with the powers reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment. The states, according to
Missouri, had absolute control of wild game and birds
within the state’s borders. The District Court disagreed
with Missouri and held that the Act of Congress
implementing the treaty was constitutional. On direct appeal to the
United States Supreme Court, the issue was whether Congress
can use its treaty power to protect migratory birds,
even when an equivalent statute wouldn’t pass muster
under the Commerce Clause. The court held that Congress
can implement measures pursuant to a validly enacted treaty that it couldn’t otherwise implement through its other
constitutional authorities, such as the Commerce Power. Justice Holmes, writing for the 7-2 court, held that the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act was a valid exercise of the federal government’s treaty powers. First, Holmes noted that
Article 2, Section II of the Constitution allows the
President to make a treaty, subject to ratification by
two-thirds of the Senate. The Migratory Bird Treaty
satisfied these requirements. Never-the-less, Missouri argued
that the treaty interfered with its 10th Amendment rights. The court rejected the state’s argument, reasoning that the 10th
Amendment didn’t apply here. The 10th Amendment reserves to the states only those governmental powers
that haven’t been delegated to the federal government. Here, the case dealt not
with an ordinary statute, but with a treaty. The treaty-making power has been delegated to the federal government
under Article 2, Section II of the Constitution. Therefore, the authority
under which Congress enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was separate from the residual powers
reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment. The court also noted that
under the Supremacy Clause, all treaties made under the
authority of the United States along with the Constitution
and federal laws are the supreme law of the land. All statutes passed to implement a valid treaty are also constitutional under the Necessary and Proper Clause which permits Congressional Acts that at are necessary and proper to execute Congress’s other
constitutional powers. Thus, the Supremacy Clause and the Necessary and Proper
Clause allowed Congress to implement the treaty
even if it meant touching on activities falling purely
within a state’s borders and usually left up to state regulation. Therefore, the court upheld
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and affirmed the District Court decision. Since it was decided, Missouri verses Holland
has been heavily criticized for unreasonable broadening
the federal government’s treaty making powers. It’s holding was later
challenged in the 2014 case of Bond verses United States,
but the Supreme Court declined to overrule it. (pencil scratching)

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