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Constitutional Law I
Rutgers University, Newark School of Law
Gonzalez, Carlos

I. State Action Doctrine: Constitutional Protections only applies against public actors – gvt entities
A. Entanglement Exception: when private companies act as gvt entities
B. 13th Amendment: only provision in Constitution that applies to public actors.
II. Article I §8 & Supremacy Clause (Article VI §2)
A. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
III. Supreme Court Authority & Federal Judicial Power
A. Article II, Sec 2
1. Cases Arising Under the Constitution or the laws of the U.S. (federal question)
2. Admiralty
3. Between 2 + States
4. Between citizens of different states (diversity jurisdiction)
5. Cases between a state/its citizens & foreign country or citizen
B. Supreme Court Jurisdiction (Clarified in Marbury) & Power of Judicial Review
1. Original: Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to hear cases involving ambassadors, other public ministers, & consuls & when the state is a party (Article III)
2. Appellate: in all other cases SC has appellate jurisdiction –to revise & correct proceedings already instituted
a) Diversity Jurisdiction
b) Federal Question
C. Seminole Case: Marbury v. Madison (1803): Judicial Review: the Constitution trumps Congressional Statutes. The Supreme Court has the power, implied from Article VI § 2, of the Constitution to review acts of Congress & certain executive actionsand declare them void if they are unconstitutional.
1. Article III is an exclusive list of the maximum jurisdiction of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction & therefore Congress may not expand or detract from original jurisdiction under Article III.
2. Federal courts have a monopoly over interpreting the Constitution
3. Marbury buttressed the judicial branch by giving it the power of judicial review, which makes it equal to the executive & legislature in power. By withholding judicial review, the courts would have only the passive power of interpretation of law.
4. Early cases affirming Marbury:
a) Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee: U.S. Supreme Court has the power to review decisions of the highest State courts available that rule on federal law to ensure a national uniformity in reading federal law.
(1) SC may not review state court decision w/ an “independent & adequate” state ground for the decision (if the same result would be reached even if the SC made a different decision) b/c it would be advisory
(a) Exam Tip: Be alter for state & federal provisions that cover the same territory: if the state court decided the issue solely as a matter of stat law, there is no federal question
(2) Not independent if the state action violates both federal & state constitutions for the same reason & SC may review
(3) If highest court refuses to hear an appeal – SC may still hear the case
b) Cohen v. Virginia: Reaffirmed the constitutionality of § 25 of the Judiciary Act & authority of SC to review state court judgments on federal law for criminal defendants. Powerful tool of judicial review over state action is reaffirmed. Rationale: The States cannot be trusted to enforce federal law because judges are dependant for office & salary on the will of the State Legislatures.
IV. Limits on Federal Judicial Power
A. Congressional Limits –ability of Congress to restrict federal court jurisdiction
1. SC: Congress can limit the kinds of cases the SC hears under appellate jurisdiction (Exceptions & Regulations Clause) but it cannot expand the case load beyond the categories in the Constitution.
2. Lower Federal Courts: Congress can cut back, maybe even completely eliminate the lower federal courts, but Congress cannot expand their dockets beyond the bounds of constitutional federal judicial power.
B. Justiciability Limits –series of judicially created doctrines that limit the types of matters that federal courts decide
C. Interpretive
1. Originalist: (narrow interpretation of judicial power)
a) Judges should only protect constitutional rights that are clearly stated or intended by the framers through clearly implicit writings
(1) If constitution is silent – the power resides with the States or legislatures (and not the courts)
(2) The Constitution can evolve solely by amendment
(3) Ex: Scalia
2. Non-originalists:
a) Court should have substantial discretion in determining the meaning of the Constitution & believe it is a document that should evolve to enforce norms that cannot be discovered w/in its four corners to meet the needs of a society that is advancing morally & technologically even those not stated explicitly in the Constitution.
(1) Ex: Equal Protection – although intended by the framers, they did not intend it to apply to women. It is widely accepted today that this protections should extend to gender discrimination.
3. Cases
a) District of Columbia v. Heller (Supreme Court, 2008): D.C.’s prohibition on the possession of handguns in the home or any gun dissembled violates the 2nd Amendment, right to bear arms. Although 2nd Amendment right is limited by the prohibition of dangerous & unusual weapons, & to law abiding citizens it is an individual right disconnected from military service in the modern sense
V. Congressional Limits on Federal Court Power: the extent to which Congress can create or abolish
A. Jurisdiction Stripping – the extent can Congress expand, shrink subject matter jurisdiction. Article III is a maximum subject matter jurisdiction – Congress can shrink but not expand b

d Clause (Article § 1, Sec. 8): Congress may tax for the general welfare
b) Necessary & Proper Clause: Congress can make laws necessary & proper to execute its enumerated powers so long as it is rationally related to achieving one of these goals & is not forbidden under the Constitution
(1) Note: once you identify an enumerated power that Congress can rely upon, Congress can act in any way that is rationally related to its exercise so long as not forbidden under the Constitution.
2. Congressional Powers: interstate commerce taxing & spending, regulate D.C., regulate & dispose of federal property, declare war & establish armed forces, enforce Civil War Amendments
B. States: General Police Power to do anything to enhance general welfare (health, safety, morality) not expressly forbidden in the Constitution
1. U.S. v. Klein (1871): Congress cannot enact a statute that fixes a judicial result upon certain specific evidence. Separation of powers is violated by commanding the court to draw certain conclusions from evidence before it and by directing the court to dismiss an appeal for lack of jurisdiction when it encounters such evidence. (A law can deny the right of appeal in certain classes of cases but cannot strip of appellate jurisdiction upon the existence of certain evidence)
a) Note: Law gave federal courts jurisdiction until there was proof of a pardon –at that point the law stripped jurisdiction –this violates separation of powers
b) But, Congress can change substantive law: Congress may pass new laws, which can overrule a Supreme Court’s interpretation of a statute. Supreme Court distinguished the Klein holding in Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Society.
(1) Klein applies only when Congress directs the judiciary as to decision-making under an existing law & does not apply when Congress adopts a new law. Court said in this case Congress was not directing an outcome under pending litigation & therefore there was no Separation of Powers infringement.
(a) Case establishes no clear principals as to when separation of powers prevents Congress from changing the law in response to an SC decision interpreting a statute. Answer to this question will turn on disputes about the meaning of the Constitution’s language, intent of the framers, & competing policy considerations,