Select Page

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

Con Law

List of Cases:

Judicial Review:

*Marbury v. Madison

Cooper v. Aaron – est. that SCOTUS decisions must be followed by entire country. (Was challenge to applicability of Brown v. Board of Ed in Arkansas)

Baker v. Carr – question about redistricting after demographic shift from rural to urban areas is not a political question and is justiciable – bc brought under 14th Amend NOT Guaranty Clause.

Nixon v. US – challenge to impeachment procedures. Determined to be a political question bc separation of powers – if justices can oversee impeachment then judiciary would have too much power.


Martin v Hunter’s Lessee – Est. SCOTUS review of state court cases bc state judges might not be unbiased bc are usually elected. Case was about who owned land in VA. States decide state law, but if there’s a federal question or issue then SCOTUS can review. Art. III section 2 clause 2.

*Cohens v VA

*Ex Parte McCardle

US v. Klein – Congress doesn’t have power to decide cases bc separation of powers

Legislative Powers:

McCulloch v. Maryland – Congress can take actions which aren’t specifically under their enumerated powers so long as the action furthers something within a defined power. If Congress is allowed to have an objective then can also take measures needed to fulfill objective. Any means not prohibited by Constitution are okay to fulfill objective.

Commerce Clause:

Wickard v Filburn – look at effect on interstate commerce in the aggregate. (One person’s action probably won’t make a difference but if everyone did it would be a problem). SCOTUS deferential to Congressional use of Commerce power. Right to regulate local economic activity bc aggregate effect.

Heart of Atlanta – racial discrimination burdened interstate travel. (Blacks not allowed at hotel so less able to travel). Upheld Civil Rts Act.

Katzenbach v McClung – Rational review of effects on interstate commerce. Any rational reason why act would interfere with interstate commerce is enough to apply Civil Rights Act. Here was cases of restaurant discriminating. Found CRA applies to restaurants which serve or offer to serve interstate travelers, or if a lot of the food comes in from out of state.

US v Lopez – Congress used Commerce clause to say no guns in school zones. Went too far. No rational relation between guns in schools and interstate commerce. Fear of unlimited Congressional power.

*US v. Butler – Broad view of Congressional spending power. Spending power not limited by what’s in Constitution.

South Dakota v Dole – question of conditional spending (state can get fed money if do X – in this case institute a 21 age limit on drinking). Congress allowed to attach conditions to grants of money so long as:

Condition is for the protection of the general welfare
There are NO ambiguities about the conditions
There’s a reasonable relation between condition and grant. (Can’t be school grant and money for wildlife protection). Germaneness.
No independent Constitutional bar – spending must be Constitutional
Congress can’t coerce states. (Generally means states can’t be dependent on fed money grant – then wouldn’t have a choice re: condition)

Missouri v Holland – Executive can make treaties, Congress can pass laws to effectuate treaties based on necessary and proper clause.

US v Morrison – need state action in order for 14th Amend to apply. Reqs of congruence and proportionality – legislation must have congruence and proportionality between injury to be prevented and the means adopted to address it. Use of Commerce Clauses to sustain Violence Against Women Act invalid – relation between violence and interstate commerce too attenuated/nonexistent. Along w/Lopez shows Court taking stricter view of Commerce Clause and reasonable relation/commercial activity.

*National League of Cities – Can’t regulate states as states. Viewed issues in states purview by tradition.

NY v US – regs only deal w/state entity – not applicable to private individuals – so violates 10th Amend Anti-Commandeering principle. Invalid.

Printz – Congress can’t order around state legislatures or officials. (Though can regulate through conditional funding – power of the purse). Anticommandeering principle.

Garcia – question of whether or not can subject states to same regulations as private individuals. Can do – is law is generally applicable then is okay. Overturned ‘tradition’ aspect of Natl League.

Philadelphia v NJ – Facially invalid bc made distinction based on geographic region. (NIMBY problem w/NJ and waste – wanted to keep out waste from other states)

Dormant Commerce Clause:

Maine v Taylor – Ban on importing certain fish into state. Facially discriminatory but upheld bc ends justified means – strong environmental reason and no viable alternatives.

Dean Milk – Involved city ordinance re: milk pasteurization. Invalid bc existence of nondiscriminatory alternatives.

Baldwin v Seeling – Attempt by state to set minimum price of milk. Invalid bc discrim effect on out-of-state milk producers.

Bacchus – Tax exemption for liquor produced from indigenous Hawaiian plant. Invalid bc discriminatory effect.

Hunt – Apple labeling/standards case. Invalid bc discriminatory effect.

Pike – Est balancing test to determine undue burden on interstate commerce. Law re: packaging of cantaloupes invalid bc benefit low and burden high. Not discriminatory but failed balancing test.

Kassel –

tutional. Could establish line item veto through change in Constitution only. Formalist decision.

Legislative Veto

INS v. Chadha – Congress gave itself a legislative veto as a check on administrative agency. Wanted to overturn INS decision to not deport Chadha. Invalid bc need to go through both houses (bicameralism) and present bill to president (presentment) in order to overturn agency decision. Was a more formalist decision. Only way for Congress to have a ‘legislative veto’ is to pass a law – so to go through both houses of Congress and have president sign it.

Appointments and Removals:

Bowsher – Congressional Act would’ve given Congress power to hire/fire a Comptroller-General. Invalid bc gives power to Legislature that belongs to Executive. Formalist decision. Even though have Bicameralism and Presentment as required by Chadha stsill Unconstitional bc is Appointments/Removals issue.

*Myers – power to remove is part of power to appoint. Broad articulation of pres power.

Humphrey – Pres can only remove those under executive power – not someone from independent regulatory agency.

Wiener – If official in question isn’t firmly under Exec power Pres can only remove if Congress confers such power. If not purely Exec then must obtain permission from Congress to remove.

Morrison v. Olson – Who can appoint. Even if is agency where Pres can appoint head of it is okay for other people to hire ‘inferior officers’. The function and power of appointee determines who can appoint them. Functionalist approach – whatever makes govt run best.

Mistretta v US – Challenge to commission to create Fed Sentencing Guidelines. Commission upheld bc Court took functionalist view.

*Barron v Balitmore – Bill of Rts not apply to states. Takings case re: MD making Barron’s wharf unusable. No rt to protection of property based on Constitution. Pre-Civil War case.

Slaughterhouse cases – First case interpreting post-Civil War Amendments (13,14,15). Amendments not apply to state action bc were meant to end slavery – very narrow and specific purpose. Applying Amendments to state would give SCOTUS too much power over states.

Due Process – when and how applies to states: