A. Title I of the ADA Reaches Only Those Employers that are Engaged in Industries Affecting Commerce and Thus is Within the Scope of Congress' Commerce Authority As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in United States v. Lopez, 115 S. Ct. 1624 (1995), the Commerce Clause, U.S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 3, empowers Congress to: (1) regulate the use of the channels of interstate commerce; (2) "regulate and protect the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, or persons or things in interstate commerce;" and (3) regulate or prohibit "activities that substantially affect interstate commerce."
115 S. Ct. at 1629-30. "Where economic activity substantially affects interstate commerce, legislation regulating that activity will be sustained." Id. at 1630 (citations omitted).
The jurisdictional provisions of Title I ensure that the statute reaches only those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. Specifically, application of Title I is limited to those employers "engaged in an industry affecting commerce." 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5)(A). Title I incorporates the definitions of "commerce" and "affecting commerce" found in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 42 U.S.C. § 12111(7).21
After considering similar jurisdictional language in the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., the Supreme Court held that that statute was a valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause powers. NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 31 (1937). Specifically, the Court held that the authority granted to the National Labor Relations Board -- namely, the authority to prevent unfair labor practices that "affect commerce":
reach[es] only what may be deemed to burden or obstruct that commerce and, thus qualified, it must be construed as contemplating the exercise of control within constitutional bounds. It is a familiar principle that acts which directly burden or obstruct interstate or foreign commerce, or its free flow, are within the reach of congressional power.
The Court in Lopez cited with approbation Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., as well as other cases upholding the validity of statutes containing jurisdictional requirements such as
Title I's. Lopez, 115 S. Ct. at 1628-29, 1631. As the Court noted, such jurisdictional elements "ensure, through case-by-case inquiry, that the [activity] in question affects interstate commerce." Id. at 1631.
Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit has recognized that cities, such as the City of Mobile, are "engaged in [industries] affecting commerce." See, e.g., Williams v. City of Montgomery, 742 F.2d 586, 588-89 (11th Cir. 1984)(City of Montgomery is an "employer" within the meaning of Title VII), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1053 (1985); Dumas v. Town of Mt. Vernon, Alabama, 612 F.2d 974, 979 (5th Cir. 1980) (Town of Mt. Vernon is an "employer" within the meaning of Title VII). Thus, Title I of the ADA, like the National Labor Relations Act, is a valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause powers, both on its face and as applied to the facts of this case.