The issue is discussed in quite a few cases, including an in depth discussion in Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003). The Official Syllabus of that decision summarizes its analysis:
The Copyright and Patent Clause, U. S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 8,
provides as to copyrights: "Congress shall have Power ... [t]o promote
the Progress of Science ... by securing [to Authors] for limited Times
... the exclusive Right to their ... Writings." In the 1998 Copyright
Term Extension Act (CTEA), Congress enlarged the duration of
copyrights by 20 years: Under the 1976 Copyright Act (1976 Act),
copyright protection generally lasted from a work's creation until 50
years after the author's death; under the CTEA, most copyrights now
run from creation until 70 years after the author's death, 17 U. S. C.
§ 302(a). As in the case of prior copyright extensions, principally in
1831, 1909, and 1976, Congress provided for application of the
enlarged terms to existing and future copyrights alike.
Petitioners, whose products or services build on copyrighted works
that have gone into the public domain, brought this suit seeking a
determination that the CTEA fails constitutional review under both the
Copyright Clause's "limited Times" prescription and the First
Amendment's free speech guarantee. Petitioners do not challenge the
CTEA's "life-plus-70-years" timespan itself. They maintain that
Congress went awry not with respect to newly created works, but in
enlarging the term for published works with existing copyrights. The
"limited Tim[e]" in effect when a copyright is secured, petitioners
urge, becomes the constitutional boundary, a clear line beyond the
power of Congress to extend. As to the First Amendment, petitioners
contend that the CTEA is a content-neutral regulation of speech that
fails inspection under the heightened judicial scrutiny appropriate
for such regulations. The District Court entered judgment on the
pleadings for the Attorney General (respondent here), holding that the
CTEA does not violate the Copyright Clause's "limited Times"
restriction because the CTEA's terms, though longer than the 1976
Act's terms, are still limited, not perpetual, and therefore fit
within Congress' discretion. The court also held that there are no
First Amendment rights to use the copyrighted works of others. The
District of Columbia Circuit affirmed. In that court's unanimous view,
Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U. S. 539,
foreclosed petitioners' First Amendment challenge to the CTEA. The
appeals court reasoned that copyright does not impermissibly restrict
free speech, for it grants the author an exclusive right only to the
specific form of expression; it does not shield any idea or fact
contained in the copyrighted work, and it allows for "fair use" even
of the expression itself. A majority of the court also rejected
petitioners' Copyright Clause claim. The court ruled that Circuit
precedent precluded petitioners' plea for interpretation of the
"limited Times" prescription with a view to the Clause's preambular
statement of purpose:
"To promote the Progress of Science." The court found nothing in the
constitutional text or history to suggest that a term of years for a
copyright is not a "limited Tim[e]" if it may later be extended for
another "limited Tim[e]." Recounting that the First Congress made the
1790 Copyright Act applicable to existing copyrights arising under
state copyright laws, the court held that that construction by
contemporaries of the Constitution's formation merited almost
conclusive weight under Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111
U. S. 53, 57. As early as McClurg v. Kingsland, 1 How. 202, the Court
of Appeals recognized, this Court made it plain that the Copyright
Clause permits Congress to amplify an existing patent's terms. The
court added that this Court has been similarly deferential to
Congress' judgment regarding copyright. E. g., Sony Corp. of America
v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U. S. 417. Concerning
petitioners' assertion that Congress could evade the limitation on its
authority by stringing together an unlimited number of "limited
Times," the court stated that such legislative misbehavior clearly was
not before it. Rather, the court emphasized, the CTEA matched the
baseline term for United States copyrights with the European Union
term in order to meet contemporary circumstances.
Held: In placing existing and future copyrights in parity in the CTEA,
Congress acted within its authority and did not transgress
constitutionallimitations. Pp. 199-222.
- The CTEA's extension of existing copyrights does not exceed Congress' power under the Copyright Clause. Pp. 199-218.
(a) Guided by text, history, and precedent, this Court cannot agree
with petitioners that extending the duration of existing copyrights is
categorically beyond Congress' Copyright Clause authority.
The case most squarely on point to your question held that a telephone book is not sufficiently original as a constitutional matter to be subject to copyright. It held that originality, for copyright purposes, is constitutionally mandated for all works. Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc., 499 U.S. 340 (1991).
Under the Copyright and Patent Clause, Congress' copyright authority is tied to the progress of science; its patent authority, to the progress of the useful arts. Golan v. Holder, 565 U.S. 302 (2012).
Under this clause, Congress, to encourage people to devote themselves to intellectual and artistic creation, may guarantee to authors and investors a reward in form of control over sale or commercial use of copies of their books. Goldstein v. California, 412 U.S. 546 (1973).
This clause is both grant of power and limitation; this clause is limited to promotion of advances in useful arts. Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1 (1966).
The economic philosophy behind this clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is best way to advance public welfare through talents of authors and inventors in Science and useful Arts. Mazer v. Stein , 347 U.S. 201 (1954).
The Copyright Act of Congress, R.S. § 4952, as amended by the Act Mar. 3, 1891, c. 565, 26 Stat. 1106, giving to authors the exclusive right to dramatize any of their works, is valid as applied to pantomine dramatization by means of moving picture films. Kalem Co. v. Harper Bros., 222 U.S. 55 (1911).
This section does not limit the useful to that which satisfies immediate bodily needs, and painting and engraving not intended for a mechanical end are among the useful arts, the progress of which Congress is empowered by this section to promote. Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239 (1903).
No authority exists for obtaining a copyright beyond the extent to which Congress has authorized it; a copyright cannot be sustained as a right existing at common law, but depends wholly on the legislation of Congress. Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888).
Legislation concerning trademark protection is not authorized by this clause. In re Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82 (1879).
A list of U.S. Supreme Court cases on the issue of copyright at Wikipedia includes many additional copyright cases that don't implicate the U.S. Constitutional language.
It is also worth noting that while the U.S. Supreme Court is the final and most authoritative interpreter of the U.S. Constitution, that any court presented with an issue of constitutional interpretation can, and indeed, is duty bound, to interpret the constitutional in a legally authoritative way, which in the case of appellate courts (state and federal) serves as a legal precedent for other cases that "makes law" on the issue.