I went to the pet store and bought 50 comets at a dime apiece to put in the pond. If these comets came from out of state, I engaged in interstate commerce even though the pet store is also in New York and is locally owned and operated. If the comets were raised in New York, that’s still interstate commerce, because my purchase of home grown comets has a theoretical impact on the overall comet market and this crosses state lines. If comets are to be had only in New York such that there is no market that crosses state lines, this is still interstate commerce since it is part of the larger market in non-fancy goldfish and that crosses state lines. If I raise my own comets in an aquarium and give them away to my neighbor, that’s interstate commerce because it caused my neighbor to stay away from the market in non-fancy goldfish and has a slight theoretical impact on overall demand. If I raise my own comets for my own enjoyment using specimens I caught in a pond on my own property, that’s interstate commerce because I eschewed the overall market in non-fancy goldfish and reduced demand. Accordingly, Congress may legislate about comets and the trade therein under any conceivable circumstances without offending constitutional limits on federal power.
Since I put the comets in my pond, the federal government has an interest in my activities because of its authority over navigable waters. My pond’s overflow crosses a weir into a culvert into a stream that crosses a dismal, enters several other ponds, follows other streams to Fishkill Creek and ultimately flows into the Hudson River which everyone knows is navigable, what with all the ships and boats on it. Since my pond water becomes Hudson River water, it is navigable water subject to the power of Congress. The pond is fed by two streams and by seasonal runoff from Hosner Mountain. The runoff flows down a gully along the fence line in my backyard. This gully, even when dry, would be navigable waters since it has the potential to contain water bound for the Hudson. The whole of Hosner Mountain which drains into the Hudson through one stream or another would be navigable water even though it is over 1000 feet above sea level and apparently dry land. Dry land to the constitutionally illiterate, that is.
The comets are still alive several days later. So far, neither the Corps of Engineers nor the EPA has expressed an interest in my comet habitat. That’s only because it is not at present convenient for them to do so.