Copyright (c) 1997 George Mason Law Review
George Mason Law Review
COMMENT: CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE CHILD SUPPORT RECOVERY ACT IN THE WAKE OF UNITED STATES v. LOPEZ
5 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 267
Jeanne M. Tanner *
In 1992, Congress passed the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 1 (CSRA) in an attempt to force non-custodial parents to pay their courtordered child support payments. The CSRA specifically targets delinquent parents with out-of-state dependent children. In enacting the CSRA, Congress relied on its broad legislative powers under the Commerce Clause. 2 Since the 1930s, these powers have gone largely unchallenged by the courts. 3 This age of judicial deference may have come to an end, however, with the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Lopez. 4 In Lopez, the Court held unconstitutional the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 5 (GFSZA) as violative of the Commerce Clause. To many, the Lopez decision signaled that the far-reaching Commerce Clause powers of Congress are once again subject to more rigorous judicial scrutiny and hence subject to new limitations. 6
Indeed, within months of the Lopez decision, a federal district court in Arizona, in United States v. Schroeder, struck down the CSRA as an unconstitutional exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause powers. 7 Since then, numerous district courts, spanning nine circuits, have addressed the constitutionality of the CSRA. Most of the district courts have found the CSRA to be constitutional. 8 However, a total of three district courts in Arizona, Texas and Pennsylvania have found the CSRA to be unconstitutional. 9 At the appellate level, three circuit courts, the Second, Ninth and Tenth, have all upheld the constitutionality of the CSRA on appeal. 10 Thus, although the ...
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