Select Page

Constitutional Law I
South Texas College of Law Houston
Alfini, James J.

Constitutional Law Alfini Spring 2018
Article III Sec. 2: The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity arising under the constitution, the laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority
Supreme Courts power is limited only to “Cases and Controversies”
SC has original jurisdiction over “Controversies” of ambassadors and minsters, and when a state shall be a party
All other cases the Supreme Court shall have “appellate jurisdiction” of admiralty and maritime, when U.S is a party, b/w two or more states, b/w citizens from different states, b/w states and a foreign citizen or states
Judicial Review
Marbury v. Madison
The case involved the Judiciary Act of 1789, which expanded the supreme courts original jurisdiction
However, any act that is repugnant to the constitution is invalid
Writ of mandamus: it is a remedy, it orders a political official to act
Marbury had the right, and correct remedy to order his commission to be a judge however, the writ of mandamus could not be reviewed/enforced by the supreme court
B/c that supreme court has very limited original jurisdiction and all other cases and controversies are appellate jurisdiction
Congress has the power to interfere and limit the Supreme Courts power on appellate jurisdiction
This case created the power of “Judicial Review”: which reviews acts of congress to ensure they comport with the constitution
It is the duty of the judicial department to determine the law
Limits on Supreme Courts Jurisdiction by Congress
Ex Parte McCardle
This case demonstrates that congress has the power to limit or eliminate the Supreme Courts power of review on certain issues (exception clause)
“With such exceptions and under such regulations as congress shall make
In this case there were two statutes that permitted the Supreme Court to grant habeas corpus, however the congress eliminated one of the statue, but left the other
United States v. Klein
This case is distinguishable from “MaCardle” b/c in this case “Klein” won in the lower courts and “MaCardle” lost in the lower courts. The difference is that congress in “Klein” attempted to restrict judicial power on a pending case, which is unconstitutional. In “MaCardle” the Supreme Court sustained the congressional power to withdraw jurisdiction to proceed with the case.
Justiciability: it is a term of art, where the federal power is limited to those disputes which confine federal courts to a role consistent with a system of separated powers and which are traditionally thought to be capable of resolution through the judicial process
There is no “Justiciability” controversy when…
The parties are seeking a ruling on a “Political Question”
The parties are asking for an “advisory opinion” (A.K.A Ripeness)
The question before the court is “Moot” by subsequent developments
There is no “Standing” to maintain an action
Warth v. Seldin
In this case zoning ordinances prevented apartment buildings from being built that lower class citizens could afford. However, this does not grant “standing”, rather this is a “general grievance for third party’s”
The individuals claims: they did not have a personal stake in the outcome, or benefit in a tangible way
Prudential Limitations
Rule: the complaint must be more than a “general grievance and cannot rest on rights of others”
Constitutional Limitations: What the plaintiff MUST allege to gain “Standing”
1) A distinct and palpable injury to himself, OR
2) A threaten injury that is imminent, AND
3) Specific or concrete facts (traceable to defendants conduct)
4) The plaintiff has a personal stake in the outcome
Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Dev. Corp.
This case can be distinguished from “Warth” in the facts the plaintiff in “Village” alleged a specific injury that was distinct to himself and established the casual relationship b/w the injury and the defendants actions. Unlike in “Warth” the plaintiffs could not establish a distinct injury, and it was not dependent on speculation of third party’s who were not before the court
MUST have a close knit relationship b/w injury and facts
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife
People cannot have generalized grievances. They must allege a specific harm. The wildlife service brought a suit against the defendant for creating a list of endangered species that were only applicable inside the united states and not outside. The plaintiffs could not list an actual injury only a speculative interest. (No Standing)
Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency
The state was able to prove that the agency has caused damage to the state because it failed to enforce the regulations. The state had proof of damage to the land. The state could trace the agencies conduct to global warming from greenhouse gases, and rising sea levels that eroded the coastline. Standing is a constitutional limit on the courts ability to hear a case. (Standing)
Injury can be “actual or imminent”
When state is the plaintiff the courts will be more deferential to standing
Hollingsworth v. Perry (a/b Standing to represent the Interests of a State)
That interest is by definition a generalized one, and it is precisely because proponents assert such an interest that they lack standing under our precedents …
[S]tanding in federal court is a question of federal law, not state law. And no matter its reasons, the fact that a state thinks that a private party should have standing to seek relief for a generalized grievance cannot o

issue is “textually demonstrable”?
First, must interpret the text in question and determine whether and to what extent the issue is textually committed to a branch of government. Like in Nixon the word Try in the constitution was committed to the legislative branch and not the judicial branch
Zivtotfsky v. Clinton
Congressional law stated that an American born in Jerusalem could put Israel as the place of birth. The state department said that only the president could determine that. Presidential power over foreign affairs is not specifically stated in the constitution.
This case was found to be justiciable. The plaintiff was asserting a statutory right given by congress.
When the question/issue is about a statutes interpretation that is the role for the judicial branch to decide
Just b/c the statute has “political overtones” does not make it a political question
General Rule: must be concrete legal issues presented in actual cases, and not abstractions and suffer a real and immediate threat of harm
A hypothetical threat is NOT enough
United Public Workers v. Mitchell
The government passed the Hatch Act that stated government officials could not participate in political campaigns. The plaintiff was granted standing in the court because it was an imminent future harm to the plaintiff.
Is there an actively enforced statute that will cause harm? Has the harm begun yet or is the harm too speculative? (Ripe)
Has the harm already been suffered?
Is there an immediate harm?(imminent)
Is there a threat of future harm?
Adler v. Board of Education
The degree of concreteness required may vary with the nature of the constitutional issue presented
“Mitchell” and “Adler” are similar because they establish that the concretes required varies on the issue presented
They are different b/c in “Mitchell” the action arose in federal court and the ripeness issue was to determine the standards for granting declaratory judgment. In “Adler” the court was reviewing a state courts decision and the ripeness issue was concerning the standard for review
Poe v. Ulman
No threat of harm, therefore, not Ripe
MUST know the difference b/w “standing” and “Ripeness”
Standing Issue= Present Harm