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Constitutional Law I
South Texas College of Law Houston
Bergin, Kathleen

Course Outline Constitutional Law

I. Introduction to the Constitution

A. The Functions and Purposes of the Constitution
1. Sets the framework for the federal government
a. Art. I – Established congress (the House and Senate)
1) Qualifications
i. Senate – 30 yrs. old / 9 yr citizen
ii. House – 25 yrs. old / 7 yr citizen
b. Art. II – Established executive (President and Vice-President)
1) Qualifications
i. President – 35 yrs old / natural born citizen / 14 yrs resident
2) Powers
i. Commander-in-chief
ii. Execute all laws of the US
c. Art. III – Established judicial
1) Qualifications
i. No expressed qualifications (must be appointed and confirmed by the senate)
2) Powers
i. Established the SMJ of the federal courts (issues between states and ambassadors)
d. Art. VI – Supreme law of the land
1) Federal law supercedes conflicting state law
2. Protection of individual rights and liberties
a. The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10)
3. Federalism – division of power b/w state and federal government
a. Federal has limited power but supreme power (federal law trumps)
4. Protection against a short-sided majority and protect principals that are beyond the majority
5. Separation of Powers between the Legislative and Executive Branches
a. Exec. Cannot enact laws
b. Exec may be delegated some powers by the legislative
c. Exec cannot declare war, but may deploy troops in response to a surprise attack
d. Exec only may enter into Treaties with other nations
e. Exec only may appoint fed. Officers
6. States relinquish some powers to the federal government such as:
a. minting money
b. providing for the common defense and declaring war
c. governing interstate commerce clause
7. Federalist system of government. The federal and state governments co-exist with the federal government having limited, enumerated powers.
8. Prior to the Civil War, states were the major guarantors of civil rights, but since the Civil War, the federal government has taken the lead role of protector of civil rights

B. Constitutional Interpretation (foundation of Constitutional Law)
1. Textual – look strictly at the words on their face
a. Problems: terms can be ambiguous, meanings not easily known, words change over time
b. Two sides to the argument
1) Individual rights
2) Collective rights – favor states rights over individual
2. Structural – what the constitution shows but does not say on its face
a. Look to placement (how all fits together) (i.e. Organization of the Articles)
b. Look to the relationship between the branches (i.e. separation of powers argument)
3. History – look at the military, economic, social, political & legal history
a. What was the intention of the framers (i.e. concern regarding the power of the federal government)
4. National Values / Ethos – include the values we hold as the American people
5. Precedent (Judicial Doctrine)
6. Policy (practical application)

II. The Judicial Power under Article III

A. The Authority for Judicial Review
1. Marbury v. Madison – established the principal of judiciary review
a. Single most important S/C decision
b. Three step process to judicial review
1) Must have jurisdiction
2) Whether executive / congress is authorized to act (does the federal have the power to act or if state is prohibited from acting)
c. Holding – Marbury losses b/c Art. III sect. 2 precludes them from exercising original jurisdiction under the circumstances therefore sect. 13 of the Judiciary Act is unconstitutional (it extended the jurisdiction of the courts)
d. Issues
1) Right to the commission
i. Nomination by president
ii. Advice and consent of the senate
iii. Signed by president
iv. Seal of the US
2) Can the judicial compel executive action
i. Yes, if there is a specific duty owed to an individual (ministerial act)

e must be an actual dispute between adverse litigants
2) Substantial likelihood that a decision by the federal court in favor of the plaintiff will have some effect
c. Types that are not sufficient
1) Request for advice (Jefferson example)
2) Collusive suit – one party finances the suit (there is no dispute between adversaries both sides work together)
d. Serves as the umbrella over all other limits of justiciability

2. Standing – whether a specific person is the appropriate person to bring the suit
a. 3 Constitutional Requirements (Art. III § 2 cannot be modified by Congress)
1) Injury in fact – invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent (type and timing) concrete or particularized or actual or imminent – not hypothetical
2) A party who does not allege direct injury or who alleges a cause of injury too attenuated from the actions of the defendant does not have standing to bring his case in fed ct. Allen v. Wright
3) Congress cannot confer standing to bring a case in fed ct. to a person not actually injured in fact. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife.
i. What is not sufficient
1. Abstract and not suffered personally
2. Right to have the gov’t follow the law
ii. What is sufficient
1. Invasion of personal (common law) right
2. Constitutional rights
3. Statutory rights – personal benefit deprived
a. Economic injuries
b. Statutory right to receive information
c. Bodily injury
d. Mental anguish / fear
e. Constitutional rights violation / Equal protection