Document Type

Supreme Court Commentaries

Publication Date



Atomic Energy Act, nuclear power, preemption doctrine

Subject Category

Constitutional Law | Supreme Court of the United States


This commentary highlights the considerations the Supreme Court should attend to in its decision in Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, both in construing § 2021(k) and in reviewing the Fourth Circuit’s reading of precedent from other circuits and from the Court’s prior opinions. Specifically, the Court must clarify how to interpret § 2021(k)’s activities component in concert with its “for purposes” language and determine the importance of the particular underlying activity the state seeks to regulate in a preemption analysis under the Atomic Energy Act. Clarification is necessary to ensure that courts properly effectuate Congress’s intent in regulating nuclear power, an important regulatory realm that implicates economic growth, technological development, and foreign policy.