C-SPAN Radio’ s historic Supreme Court Oral Argument: “United States, petitioner v. Alfonzo Lopez, Jr., respondent.” This 1995 case is about Congressional authority and the Commerce Clause, cited by many of the current state challenges to the health care law.
In 1992, Alfonzo Lopez, Jr., a 12th grade high school student, carried a concealed weapon into his San Antonio, Texas high school. He was charged under Texas law with firearm possession on school premises. The next day, the state charges were dismissed, after federal agents charged Alfonso Lopez with violating a federal criminal statute: The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. The act forbids "any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that [he] knows...is a school zone." Alfonso Lopez was found guilty following a bench trial and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and two years' supervised release.
He appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act exceeded Congress' power to legislate, under the Commerce Clause. The Fifth Circuit agreed and reversed his conviction. The Federal government petitioned for Supreme Court review and the Court accepted the case.