Select Page

Constitutional Law I
St. Johns University School of Law
Salomone, Rosemary C.

Constitutional Law – Prof. Salomone, Fall 2009
Broad Topic Outline
o   Judicial Review and Constitutional Structure
§  Power to review state court judgments
§  Adequate and independent state grounds
§  Utility of judicial review
§  Methods of constitutional interpretation
o   Doctrines Limiting the Scope of Judicial Review
§  Political controls
§  Congress and federal court jurisdiction
§  Justiciability
·         Advisory opinions
·         Standing
·         Ripeness
·         Mootness
·         Political question doctrine
o   Limits of Federal Legislative Power
§  Necessary and Proper Clause
§  Default Rules
§  Commerce Clause
·         Scope
·         State autonomy limits
§  Taxation
§  Spending
§  Regulation in Aid of War-Making
§  Foreign Affairs
§  Enforcing the Reconstruction Amendments
o   State Power over Interstate Commerce
§  Dormant Commerce Clause
·         Modern doctrine
·         Discrimination
·         Neutral burdens
·         Effects/purpose
·         States as market participants
§  Privileges and immunities (Art. IV)
§  Consent
§  Preemption
o   Separation of Powers
§  Executive action
·         Domestic affairs
·         Foreign affairs
§  Legislative action & the administrative states
§  Immunities and privileges
o   Due Process
§  Procedural due process
·         Interests
·         Process that is due
§  Substantive due process
·         Incorporation
·         Economic rights
·         Privacy rights
o   Contraceptive use
o   Abortion
o   Family relationships
o   Right to die
o   Consensual  sexual choices
o   Equal Protection
§  Minimal scrutiny
·         Illegitimate purposes
·         Enhanced minimal scrutiny
§  Strict scrutiny and suspect classifications: race/ethnicity
·         Purposefulness
·         Race and ethnicity
·         Official segregation
·         Affirmative action
§  Lawful resident aliens
§  Intermediate scrutiny
·         Gender
·         Illegitimacy
§  Fundamental rights
·         Voting
o   Denial
o   Dilution
·         Access to courts
·         Right of interstate migration
o   Free Expression of Ideas
§  Content-based regulation
·         Incitement of immediate crime
·         Obscenity and pornography
·         Fighting words
·         Hate speech
·         Offensive speech
o   General rule
o   Hostile audiences
o   Indecent speech
o   Indecency, Cable TV, Internet
·         Commercial speech
§  Content-neutral regulation
·         Time, place, manner of speech
·         Expressive conduct
·         Secondary Effects Doctrine
§  Government as Sovereign and Proprietor
·         Public forum
·         Public education
·         Deference to prison and military administrators
·         Public employment
·         Public sponsorship of speech
§  Vagueness, overbreadth, prior restraints
·         Overbreadth
·         Vagueness
·         Prior restraints
§  Implicit expression rights
·         Freedom of association
·         Freedom not to speak
o   Religion Clauses
§  Free Exercise Clause
·         Generally applicable laws
·         Legislation that targets religious conduct or belief
§  Establishment Clause
·         Financial aid to religion
·         Endorsement or coercion
o   Public schools
o   Adoption of religious symbols
·         Accomodation
o   Cessation of power to religion
o   Religious exemptions
Detailed Outline
o   Judicial Review and Constitutional Structure
§  Marbury v. Madison (1803)
§  Power to review state court judgments
·         Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)
o    Squabble over land in VA. SCOTUS reverses VA Sup. Ct., which refuses to follow its instructions to remand! Another appeal.
o    Judicial power extended to cases, not courts; can’t exercise constitutional appellate jurisdiction w/o reviewing state courts
o    Supremacy clause
o    There are const’l limits on state legislative/executive power, why not judicial power?
o    State court review needed for uniformity
·         Cohens v. Virginia (1821)
o    Court assumes power to review criminal judgments
§  Adequate and independent state grounds
·         The Supreme Court will not review a judgment of a state court with adequate and independent state law grounds
·         That is, if the case would come out the same way after correcting federal law, no reason to review
·         Need BOTH adequacy and independence
·         If the adequate and independent state law grounds are not apparent on the face of the opinion, court will assume state court decided case that way because federal law required it
·         Michigan v. Long (1993)
o    Search & seizure case – state high court reverses conviction
o    State appeals, defendant says it was decided on MI law
o    It wasn’t clear whether MI court was using MI constitution or federal constitution
o    Plain statement required
·         Bush v. Gore (2000)
o    Review of state election law, but it’s presidential election
o    Rehnquist concurrence: state legislature exercising constitutionally-granted power to determine electors
§  Clearly expressed intent of legislature must prevail, regardless of what state court says
o    Dissent 1: Art. II doesn’t give fed. judges special power
o    Dissent 2: States can organize themselves as they see fit
§  Utility of judicial review
·         Arguments in support
o    Protect minorities
o    Broad, living document needs interpretation
o    Individual rights
o    Stability
o    Judicial independence
·         Arguments against
o    Overturns will of majority
o    Judicial independence (no accountability)
o    If SCOTUS gets it wrong, only const’l amendment will correct it
§  Methods of constitutional interpretation
·         Interpretation vs. non-interpretation – natural law
o    Calder v. Bull
·         Textual method – plain language
·         Historical methods – original intent, original meaning
·         Structural arguments
·         Doctrinal arguments – precedent
·         Prudential arguments (Michigan v. Long req’ment of plain statement)
·         Cultural arguments
§  Levels of scrutiny
·         Minimal scrutiny – rational basis review
o    Law must be rationally related to a legitimate gov’t interest
·         Strict scrutiny
o    Law must be necessary to achieve a compelling gov’t int

e. Adv. Comm’n (1977)
·         Ripeness
o    An issue is unripe if future events may render decision unnecessary
o    Ripeness requires that plaintiff
§  Has suffered harm already;
§  Is faced with “specific present objective harm;” or
§  Is “under threat of specific harm”
·         Mootness
o    An issue is moot if past events have rendered decision unnecessary
o    Exceptions to mootness
§  Continuing harm to plaintiff
§  Likelihood of future recurrence of past harm
§  Issue capable of repetition but evades review
o    DeFunis v. Odegaard (1974)
§  Student challenging discrimination in law school admissions
§  Admitted anyway
§  By the time it gets to SCOTUS, student in last semester of law school
§  Moot; Law school could not prevent graduation now
§  Others could sue on their own – plaintiff not likely to face same situation, didn’t sue as a class
o    Roe v. Wade (1973)
§  Abortion case – pregnancy is only 9 mo.
§  Not moot; evades review, plus it was a class
o    Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)
§  Challenge of GA sodomy laws
§  DA decided to throw out the case
§  Not moot
·         Political question doctrine
o    Six strands of the doctrine:
§  a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or
§  a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or
§  the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; or
§  the impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or
§  an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or
§  the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.
o    Baker v. Carr (1962)
§  Tennessee reapportionment hadn’t happened in accordance w/ TN constitution, so voter dilution
§  There was standing to sue under equal protection clause
§  Tennessee legislators weren’t about to change the policy that put them in power
o    Powell v. McCormack (1969)
§  Speaker of the House refused to seat Member because Member had supposedly misappropriated funds and refused to pay a NY judgment
§  Member sued, Speaker invoked PQ doctrine
§  House could judge qualifications of its members but expel a member only w/ 2/3 vote – textual commitment to Court to determine issue
o    Bush v. Gore (2000) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting)
§  Ginsburg says in FN that this is a political question – resolution of disputed Presidential elections is a matter for Congress