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Constitutional Law I
Rutgers University, Newark School of Law
Boddie, Elise C.

 
Constitutional Law
Prof. Boddie
Fall 2014



The Constitution

A.      Framework of Federal Government- Tripartite federal government system is composed of three branches with specific charters from the Constitution:
i.                     Legislative –  Article I
ii.                   Executive-   Article II; and
iii.                 Judicial-  Article III.

B.      Separation of Powers provides system of “checks and balances” between three branches
1.       Legislative versus Executive

i.                     Executive Branch cannot make laws;
ii.                    Executive Branch may be delegated some powers by legislative branch;
iii.                  Executive Branch cannot declare war, but may deploy troops in response to surprise attack.
iv.                  Only Executive Branch  may enter into Treaties with other nations;
v.                   Only Executive Branch may appoint federal officers


1.       Creator of Federal Government:  Ratification of Constitution created by Federal Government

i.                     Democracy ruled by people
ii.                    Republic means representative democracy


1.       State Rights:

i.                      Under Federalist system of government, federal and state governments co-exist with federal government having limited, enumerated powers. 
ii.                    Nevertheless, states relinquish some powers to federal government:
–          Governing Interstate Commerce
–          Providing for Common Defense and declaring war, and
–          Minting $
iii.                  Historically, bias toward state rights prior to Civil War


1.       Supreme Law of Land:  Under Article VI, federal law supercedes conflicting state law.

Judicial Power


1.       Under Article 3, courts are those established by Congress
2.       Although Congress has plenary power to delineate jurisdictional limits, it is bound by standards of judicial power set forth in Article 3

i.                     subject matter
ii.                    parties
iii.                  case or controversy

1.       Congress cannot require these courts to render advisory opinions or perform administrative functions. 
2.       Constitution authorizes federal courts to have judicial power over “cases or controversies”.
i.                     Arising under Constitution, federal law, and federal subject matter jurisdiction
ii.                    Involving parties of diverse citizenship
iii.                  Involving admiralty and maritime law;
iv.                  Involving (between) states;
v.                   Involving United States as a party; or
vi.                  Involving ambassadors

3.       Federal Review of Acts of Congress-  Marbury v. Madison
i.                     Constitution does not explicitly authorize SC to determine constitutionality of acts of other branches of government
ii.                    However, Marbury v. Madison establishes judicial review….since Constitution is “law”; it is the duty of judiciary to declare what law is.

4.       Federal Review of State Action-  See Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
i.                     Under Article VI Supremacy Clause, federal review may only occur if state court decision involves question of federal law or Constitution. 
ii.                    Federal Court may not review state court decisions of adequate and independent state grounds, based solely on state law or state constitution unless decision is in violation of federal law or Consitution.

5.       Federal Review of Executive Action:  See US v. Nixon

6.       Marbury v. Madison
i.                     Background:  Constitution does not explicitly authorize Supreme Court to determine constitutionality of acts of other branches of government.
ii.                    Facts:

–          Marbury (P) was appointed justice of peace by Adams, but new president Jefferson withholding the paper that is his formal entitlement as JP
–          Madison (new sec of state under Jefferson) does not wish to help Marbury
–          Marbury bring the writ of mandamus against SC, invoking his right under section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established US courts and authorized SC to issue writs of mandamus to public officers
i.                     Issue:  Whether SC has jurisdiction to hear this original action brought by Marbury?  Is SC empowered to review acts of Congress and void those which it finds repugnant to the Constitution?
ii.                    Holding:
–          J. Marshall declares that Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. 
–          SC has the power to review act of leg or exec and decide whether the act is constitutional or not.
–          SC does not hold original jurisdiction in this case
–          Congress cannot tinker with the original jurisdiction of the SC…must go to Article 3 of the Constitution.
–          Judiciary Act’s grant of original mandamus jurisdiction is unconstitutional and void.  Thus, SC rules against Marbury.
–          Grant of judicial power extends to all cases arising under Constitution & laws of US
–          Supremacy Clause- Constitution always trumps an act.

iii.                 The Process:
-Marshall structured the opinion around three questions:  First, does Marbury have a right to the commission?, Second, if so, do the laws of his country afford him remedy, Third, if so, can the SC grant him a remedy?
-Having concluded that Marbury had a right to the commission and that the court had the authority to issue mandamus as a remedy, the Court then turned its attention to the issue of jurisdiction.
-This was an unorthodox way to proceed.  It is well recognized that a court must first determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case, however, had the jurisdiction issue been presented first, Marbury’s case would have been dismissed witho

–          Klein supported confederacy
–          Prez Jackson issued pardons to some rebels
–          Klein gives allegiance to US and gets land back
–          Legal uncertainty to Klein’s entitlement of his property…does president’s pardon eliminate his position as a past rebel.

i.                     Issue: 

–          Was Congress’ statute which divested the Court of Jurisdiction was a proper exercise of the Exception Power?


i.                     Holding:

–          No.
–          Congress was using its Exception power to manipulate the result in a pending case
–          The statute usurped the judicial function of deciding cases and controversies
–          Also, it encroached on the constitutional prerogative of the President to issue pardons.


i.                     Comments:

–          What is difference between Klein and McCardle?
–          In Klein, Congress is trying to deprive the SC to even hear the case.  In McCardle, Congress only eliminates one of two statutes allowing Supreme Court to grant habeas corpus upheld because it still left one avenue for review available. 


1.       Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
i.                     Facts:

–          Martin (D) heir to Va estate.  Ste leg confiscated property of Brit loyalists notwithstanding treaty between GBR and USA that protected British owned property.
–          Hunter’s Lessee sued for ejectment.

i.                     Issue: 

–          Does SC have jurisdiction to sit in judgment of the decision over the highest state courts re: federal issues?


i.                     Holding: 

–          yes
–          Court can review state court decisions. The constitution creates a SC and gives Congress discretion whether to create lower federal courts.
–          But, if Congress chose not to establish such tribunals, then the SC would be powerless to hear any cases, except for the few within original jurisdiction.
–          Framers wanted SC to review state court decisions to allow for uniformity of laws.   
–          All cases involving Constitution, law & treaties of US are included in judicial power granted by Constitution of SC; hence, all such cases are properly subject to SC’s appellate jurisdiction. 
–          Such power is necessary for uniformity of decisions throughout the country.