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Constitutional Law I
Southern Illinois University School of Law
Buys, Cindy G.

I. The Adequate and Independent State Grounds Doctrine
· Requires assessment of the adequacy of the state basis for decision and its independence from federal law
· The state basis must be both adequate and independent
· Rules from Michigan v. Long (1983):
o It is “incumbent upon this Court to ascertain for itself whether the asserted non-federal ground independently and adequately supports the judgment.”
o If a state court chooses merely to rely on federal precedents as it would on the precedents of all other jurisdictions, then it need only make clear by a plain statement in its judgment or opinion that the federal cases are being used only for the purpose of guidance, and do not themselves compel the result that the court has reached.
o If the state court decision indicates clearly and expressly that it is alternatively based on bona fide separate, adequate, and independent grounds, the Supreme Court will not undertake to review the decision
II. Justiciability
1. Advisory Opinions. The “case or controversy” requirement of Art III has been regarded as precluding federal courts from providing advisory opinions
2. Standing to Sue.
a. The Constitutional Core of Standing.
· Art III’s “case or controversy” requirement and the principle of separation of powers combine to require a P to allege and prove:
1. Personal, actual, or imminent injury in fact
o Most injuries are economic or tangible; but aesthetic, emotion, and environmental injuries are sufficient to confer standing if the remaining elements of standing are present
o Injury must be actual or imminent
§ If the injury has not yet occurred, there must be a credible threat of its immediate occurrence
o The injury must be suffered personally
§ If injury is personal, it does not matter how many other people suffer the same injury
2. Caused by or fairly traceable to the D’s action complained of
o Personalized injury-in-fact must be caused by or be fairly traceable to, the D’s conduct about which the P complains
o There is an interdependence of the alleged injury and causation
§ Causation may not be quite that indeterminate, because it must always be related to the claimed injury-in-fact
o The art of standing is to frame the injury no more generally than necessary to make the causal chain convincingly short
3. Redressable by the Courts
o Art III standing is lacking if the P’s injury, even if caused by the D’s conduct, cannot be redressed by some remedy within the court’s power
o Redressability is not just the ability of a court to issue some enforceable order; the court’s order must assuage the injury of which P complains
b. “Prudential” or Nonconstitutional Standing Rules
· Even if the constitutional core of standing has been satisfied, standing may be denied if a P fails to meet the Court’s prudential requirements for standing
1. Third-Party Standing
· For third-party standing to be present there must be:
i. A substantial or special relationship between the claimant and the third party
§ Satisfied if the claimant’s rights are so inextricably connected to the third-party’s rights that vindication of one right will necessarily vindicate the other
ii. Proof of the impossibility or impracticability of the third-party asserting his or her own interests and
iii. A risk that the rights of the third-party will be diluted or lost unless the claimant is allowed to assert the third-party’s claim
§ Last two elements are frequently fused together: Is the threatened impairment of the third party’s rights so great that there is little likelihood of their preservation unless the claimant is permitted to assert the third-party’s rights?
§ This can occur if:
1. The P is legally obliged to take or refrain from action that prevents the third party from asserting his or her own rights; or
2. The third party has no practical ability to assert his or her own rights and the P’s interest in the controversy is congruent with the third-party’s interest
2. The “Zone of Interests” Requirement
· A P’s complaint must fall within the zone of interests protected by the law invoked
§ A P lacks standing unless the P’s injury is of a type that the law invoked was meant to protect against

c. Organizational Standing
· Ordinary standing rules apply to organizations asserting their own rights, but when an organization asserts the interests of people who they claim to represent it must establish that:
1. The members would have standing to sue independently;
2. The interests asserted are germane to the association’s purpose; and
3. Neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the members’ participation in the suit
3. Ripeness & Mootness.
· An issue is not ripe if future events may render a decision unnecessary
§To be ripe for a decision, a plaintiff must:
1. Have already suffered harm;
2. Be faced with a “specific present objective harm;” or
3. Be under a “threat of specific future harm”
§Ripeness is related to the advisory opinion doctrine – both seek to avoid decisions of abstract controversies
· An issue is moot if past events have made a decision unnecessary
§A case is rendered moot if events occur after the case has begun that eliminate the P’s stake in the controversy
§EXCEPTION TO MOOTNESS occurs when an issue is capable of repetition yet evades review
o The exception requires a showing that:
1. The life of the controversy is too short to be fully litigated prior to its termination; and
2. That there is a reasonable expectation that the P will again be subjected to the same problem
§This has been broadened, particularly in class actions where the class representative may not face the same issue in the future but similarly situated class members will
4. Political Questions.
· Elements of Political Q Doctrine:
1. The notion that courts will not decide cases where there is “a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department”
§ Most important element and the one that is most clearly constitutionally compelled
2. The idea that “a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving an issue” makes the issue a nonjusticiable political Q
§ This strand

ion is rational, and
3. The chosen means are reasonably adapted to the legitimate end
2. Historical Development of Commerce Clause Doctrine
i. The Direct-Indirect Distinction
o The essence of the distinction was that Congress could invoke the commerce power to regulate an activity that was not part of interstate commerce so long as the activity directly affected interstate commerce
ii. The Protective Principle
o The essence of the protective principle is that intrastate commerce can be regulated when necessary to protect instrumentalities of interstate commerce
iii. The “Stream of Commerce” Metaphor
o The Court attempted to identify interstate commerce as consisting of a “stream” or “current” of commerce, thus enabling Congress to regulate intrastate currents within that flow
iv. The “Commerce-Prohibiting” Technique
o Congress can ban the interstate movement of articles of commerce
v. The “Aggregation” Principle
o Wickard (1942): where a general regulatory statute bears a substantial relation to interstate commerce, the de minimis character of individual instances arising under the statute is of no consequence
§ If Congress regulates an activity that, when repeated by many people, has a substantial effect on interstate commerce the de minimis character of individual instances arising under the statute is of no consequence
o Perez (1971): Congress could use its commerce power to regulate a “class of activities without proof that the particular intrastate activity” has an effect on interstate commerce
§ so long as the regulated activity (considered as a class and taken as a whole) has a substantial effect on interstate commerce, and the affected person is “a member of the class” that is regulated, the regulation is a valid use of the interstate commerce power
vi. The “Means Affecting Means” Principle
o U.S. v. Darby (1941): The Court found that the wage and hour provisions were means reasonably related to the end of banning the interstate shipment of goods manufactured under nonconforming labor conditions
3. Limits Imposed by Principles of State Autonomy
· The States’ autonomy governance (their general “police power”) could be taken 2 ways:
1. That States enjoy a substantive immunity from federal regulation – that States may not be regulated as to certain substantive functions they perform
§ There remain a few pockets of substantive immunity from federal regulation enjoyed by states:
The 11th Amendment bars states from being