Constitutional Law Outline
· Judicial Review
o Marbury v. Madison
§ Facts: Marbury filed suit in the Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus compelling Madison as Secretary of State to deliver the commission.
§ Specific Holding: Supreme Court ruled against Marbury and held that it could not hear the case as a matter of original jurisdiction.
· Court asked three questions:
o Does Marbury have the right to the commission?
§ Court said, yes, Marbury does have the right to the commission.
o Do the laws afford Marbury a remedy?
§ The judiciary could provide remedies against the executive when there is a specific duty to a particular person, but not when it is a political matter left to executive discretion.
o Can the Supreme Court issue this remedy?
§ Where the executive has a legal duty to act or refrain from acting, the federal judiciary can provide a remedy, including a writ of mandamus.
§ When it is a political question, such as whether to veto a bill or who to appoint for an office – are entirely within the president’s discretion and cannot be judicially reviewed.
· Congress cannot increase the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction
o Article III enumerated its original jurisdiction and the Congress cannot enlarge it.
· Supreme Court can exercise judicial review
o the people established a government of limited power, so Congress must not be the only reviewer of constitutionality of their own laws, otherwise there is the potential for unlimited power.
· Supreme Court can declare federal laws unconstitutional if they conflict with the constitution and can refuse to enforce it:
o Marshall argued that the Constitution imposes limits on government powers and that these limits are meaningless unless subject to judicial enforcement.
o The Court’s authority to decide “cases” arising under the Constitution implied the power to declare unconstitutional laws conflicting with it.
o Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional à Judiciary act authorized the court original jurisdiction to hear writs of mandamus but it was unconstitutional because Congress cannot allow original jurisdiction beyond situations enumerated in the Constitution.
· Article VI makes the Constitution the Supreme Law of the land
§ Pros of Judicial Review
· Practical to have ultimate arbiter
· Protect interest of minority b/c they are not subject to political pressures
· No power over “sword or purse”
· Legitimizes gov’t in the eyes of people by having indpt review
· Can’t deliberate on whatever they want to
· Lifetime appointmnets
§ Criticism of Judicial Review:
· Not explicitly stated in the constitution that the Sprm. Ct. is the ultimate arbiter.
· Appointed, not elected (not speaking for people)
· Easily expand constitution
· Appointed by politically affiliated prez
o Cooper v. Aaron (Reiteration that Constitution is supreme law of land):
§ Facts: Arkansas had claimed that they were not bound by the holding in the Brown case because Arkansas was not a party to it.
§ Holding: Supreme Court affirmed an Appeal court’s reversal of a postponement of a desegregation program.
§ But the court reiterated that Article VI makes the Constitution the supreme law of the land and that interpretation of the 14th Amendment by the court in Brown is the supreme law of the land and Art. VI makes it binding on the States notwithstanding any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary.
o Martin’s v. Hunter’s Lease
§ Facts: Martin claimed he had land title since treaty between US and Britain claimed British ex-pats had land rights. Virginia decision upheld a Virginia seizure of Fairfax lands. Virginia said they were not bound by the S.Ct’s opinions (state ct trumping Constitution)
§ Holding: Constitution is the Supreme law of the land AND SCOTUS has ability to review state court decisions
o Cohens v. Virginia
§ Facts: Brothers were criminally convicted for selling lottery tickets – a state crime, but not a federal crime.
§ Holding: SCOTUS has ability for all appellate review – including criminal convictions
o Cooper v. Aaron (after Brown v. Board of Ed)
§ Facts: After the Brown v. Board of Ed decision, Arkansas school district says they do not have to desegregate because it will lead to violence
§ Holding: A constitutional ruling applies to everyone, including state law, actors, and citizens
§ Fed. Cts have authority to review constitutionality of state laws and state actors
o Dickerson v. United States
§ Facts:Congressional Statute purported to change Miranda Rights by allowing all admissions of people in custody as long as it was “voluntary”
§ Holding: Constitutional decisions cannot be changed
· Advisory Opinions
Defined: an opinion by a court on pending legislation or a constitutional question
There is no legal binding effect with such an advisory opinion OR there is no adversarial dispute that can be arbitrated. Some states such as Massachusetts actually use it.
Why we might Want Advisory opinions?
Prevents future litigation, save time for litigants and courts
Why we might NOT want Advisory opinions?
Separation of powers – the judicial role is limited to deciding actual disputes; it does not include giving advice to Congress or the president.
Conservation of judicial resources – giving an advisory opinion would consume judicial resources because sometimes the law would not pass and the court would have wasted its time.
Ensures that cases will be presented to the court in terms of specific disputes – not as hypothetical legal questions.
Court legitimacy issue
o Rescue Army v. Municipal Court of Los Angeles
§ Facts: good question…
§ Holding: Court articulated policy reasons why advisory opinions should NOT be granted, including
· Preserving the adversarial system
· Sep of Powers
· Only defining the issues as they appear
o Defined: Determination whether a particular person is the correct litigant to stand before the court to render a particular issue
§ Need the RIGHT litigant to bring the RIGHT issue at the RIGHT time
o Pros and Cons (policy)
Want to make sure litigant has interest in it (strong interest)
Efficiency interest à prevent frivolous claims
Need to be able to heal injury, if any person comes in, harder to give a remedy
Ensure parties have proper motive for being in court
Undermine people’s interest in the democratic process
Ensure cases based on concrete facts
PA – Stevens
Facts:Mass. fronts a suit on behalf of people suing the EPA for failing to regulate emissions of four greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Mass. Said the injury present was the shoreline degradation as ocean levels rose because of greenhouse gases. Mass injured because they owned a lot of shoreline that is being eroded
Stevens’ Application:INJURY: The injury was in-fact because it showed that its property was being damaged. CAUSATION: EPA argues that the changes in the environment are incremental, so it cannot be traced back to the government. But…reducing emissions is shown to help, however small the amount. REDRESS: Although just a little change in emissions will not stop global warming, a reduction in domestic emissions would both slow the pace of heating and might influence other large nations to do the same
Incrementalism is OK
Holding: Stevens using broader applications of causation found that Mass had standing
Different from Lujan?
Land holding, occurring in US, tangible effects more provable in US
Dissent – Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito
Parens patriae: government as parent à Did not believe the injury was concrete enough, nor that the injury was imminent enough…loss of land in itself is speculative…redressability problematic because just lowering this one emission standard won’t help the other 80% of gases in the country
o Allen v. Wright
§ Facts: A group on parents of black students are suing the IRS. They sued the IRS for failing to take away the tax-exempt status of private schools they that were practicing discrimination.
§ Injury Claimed: Injury claimed: bad education à less life chance, lower self esteem, the more you allow discriminatory schools to exist the more likely increased de facto segregation, stigmatic injury like lack of self esteem or lack of education
§ O’Connor rejects the injury argument
· Stigmatic injury = too general
· Redressability not met = too many indpt, intervening factors to show that one tax exemption would cure the ills of the children
§ Holding: Too many indpt intervening factors limits causation
o Warth v. Sedlin
§ Facts: Challenge to zoning law that limited creation of housing for lower income individuals
§ Holding: Challengers failed to show that BUT FOR this zoning law, the housing would be built. Challengers failed to take into account the causality problem – indpt, intervening factors
§ Facts: White student challenged denial of admission to UC Davis med school via Equal Protection violation
§ Holding: Court defined injury as Bakke’s ability to compete – because injury was personalized and concrete, given standing