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Constitutional Law I
Santa Clara University School of Law
Epperson, Lia

Powers of the National (Federal) Government

a. Constitution
i. Three Functions
1. Set up branches of government, defines their authority
2. Divide power between federal and state
3. Protect individual rights from government infringement
ii. Role
1. A Constitution is the pinnacle of all laws and harder to amend than a statute
2. Protects long-term commitments
iii. Issues
1. Dead hand problem: asks why should antiquated laws govern the nation
2. Anti-majoritarian
b. Supreme Court Authority (CB 2-21, 26-29)
i. Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2): establishes the Constitution, Federal Statutes, and U.S. treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” The Constitution is the highest form of law in the American legal system. State judges are required to uphold it, even if state laws or Constitutions conflict with the clause.
ii. Appellate Jurisdiction of Supreme Court (Article III, Section 2, Clause 2): “In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction.”
iii. Supreme Court Authority Rules and Cases
1. The rulings of the Supreme Court, which interpret the Constitution, are the supreme law of the land and must therefore be abided by all other courts.
a. Cooper v. Aaron— After Brown v. Board of Education, an Arkansas federal court, relying on Brown, directed the desegregation of Little Rock schools. The Arkansas governor, Faubus, however, refused to comply, arguing that Arkansas was not a party to Brown, and therefore not bound by its ruling.
c. Judicial Review (CB 2-21, 26-29)
i. Judicial Review is the power of a court to review a statute, or an official action or inaction, for constitutionality; established by Marbury v. Madison in a holding written by Judge Marshall; protection of the Constitution, final arbitor of constitutional issues
ii. Justifications for Jud

missible for Review
a. Legal question
b. Mandatory duty
c. Individual rights
d. Laws and treaties of the US (see Article III, sec. 2)
2. Impermissible for Review
a. Political question
b. Discretionary issues
c. National issues (foreign affairs, politics)
v. Judicial Review Rulesand Cases
1. An act of legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void.
a. Marbury v. Madison— A landmark case in United States law and the basis for the exercise of judicial review of Federal statutes by the United States Supreme Court under Article Three of the United States Constitution. Marbury and three others petitioned the Supreme Court directly for a writ of mandamus that would force Madison to deliver the commissions as Justice of the Peace under the former president.
The “Political Question” Doctrine (CB 31-48)