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Constitutional Law I
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Kannar, George

Constitutional Law Kannar Fall 2012

Chapter 1: The Supreme Court’s Authority and Role

Section 1. The Power of Judicial Review

· ROL→ Congress may neither restrict nor enlarge the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction.

Marbury v. Madison (1803) (p. 2)

· Established Judicial Review. Court Held that a writ of mandamus to deliver a commission made by John Adams fell under the Sup. Court’s appellate jurisdiction and therefore could not be brought in that court originally under Art. III because it is repugnant to the Constitution

· Facts: established the principle of judicial review in the separation of powers

· this however was not a revolutionary notion, perhaps just an opportune time

o “writs of assistance” were challenged pre-Revolution as essentially “unconstitutional” under the future 4th amendment

· the election of 1800 was the first switch of party power

o Federalists out, anti-Federalists in

· Jefferson’s secretary of state James Madison refused to deliver the commission to Justice William Marbury, one of outgoing president Adams’ midnight judges

· it turned out in later years that the commission may have been lost while Chief Justice John Marshall was Adams’ Secretary of State

· Issue: does the executive branch have to deliver his commission?

· Analysis: John Marshall’s opinion is delivered backwards by today’s standards

· he begins by restating the facts and proceedings of the case

· he next lays out 3 specific issues to be addressed as questions in the case

o Has the applicant a right to the commission he demands?

o If he does and this right is violated, do the laws afford him a remedy?

o If so, is it a mandamus issuing from this court?

· he answers the first yes because the commission was signed and sealed, waiting

· he answers the second yes because remedies are essential to civil liberty

· it is here that he breaks down the elements of jurisdiction regarding the 3rd issue

o creates an early “political question doctrine” as the constitution itself entrusts certain decisions to unreviewable power of certain branches

o exceptions are made however in separating political acts from legal rights

o because this involves a legal right, it is in fact reviewable

· the 3rd issue is then subdivided further into whether

o (1) Marbury requested the proper writ and

o (2) whether the Court had the right to grant it

§ 1. a Writ of mandamus is a request for someone to follow through in providing something so yes he filed correctly

§ 2. no the Supreme Court can not interfere with the executive branch, except in cases like this

· for clarity, “public minister” in this time meant foreign diplomat or ambassador

· he begins here to quote the Constitution in definition of the Court’s power

· argues that Congress included the list of powers of the Supreme Court in the document for a reason

· because the Constitution says judicial power can only come from appellate jurisdiction, Marshall points out that this is not appellate if its never been tried.

o If the Constitution is true, then a law contrary to it is not law

o if its void however, is it binding to the Courts?

· for this reason, he describes the “very essence of judicial duty”

· thus, a law the court deems unconstitutional is void

· Conclusion: Marshall’s inverted opinion allows him to expand on this jurisdiction issue

· he wanted to set it up in a format that suggests “I have no choice but to elaborate on this power of the Court”

· he may even rule in favor of Marbury just to have the chance to make this point

Section 2. Supreme Court’s Authority to Review State Court Judgments

· ROL→ The United States appellate power also extends to REVIEW state court judgments

· Judiciary Act of 1789, § 25: Provides for supreme court review of final decisions of the highest state courts rejecting claims based on federal law

Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)

· A Virginia citizen willed his Virginia land to his nephew, P, a British subject and resident of England. Virginia, according to state law, had the right to confiscate land owned by British subjects and did so. Virginia granted this land to D, who then ejected P from the land.

· But, the treaties of 1783 and 1794 with Great Britain had anti-confiscation laws saying that the states won’t take the land of British citizens.

· Supreme Court exerted its authority to review the Virginia court’s judgment and held that Supremacy Clause (Article 6) declares that the Federal interpretation will trump the States interpretation)

· Facts: arose from a dispute of land in Virginia state court

· in the preceding Fairfax’s Devisee v. Hunter’s Lessee, the state court allowed Virginia to claim Lord Fairfax’s land that belonged to Hunter

· the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this, and Virginia refused to comply

· Application: Justice Joseph Story wrote a blunt opinion legitimating Supreme Court authority over state court decisions under §25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and Article III of the Constitution

· The opinion is formatted by providing Virginia’s individual arguments, and responding to each one at a time

· Virginia alleged that this was a state court issue and in no way a federal matter

o not that the federal court doesn’t have authority, just not in this case

· Story points out that jurisdiction is determined by particular cases, not courts

· Virginia then argued that this infringed on their sovereignty

o Story says that this notion of “sovereignty” of states is simply mistaken in the first place

· Conclusion: he then goes on to argue that the federal court is more reliable and trustworthy

· says that the writers of the Constitution feared the obstruction of justice from state prejudice, jealousies, or interests

· essentially, “it’s better for us to abuse power than you”

· this allows for a systematic uniformity for all states on large issues

· overall, it’s an opinion Marshall would approve of in asserting the power of the federal courts to oversee decisions in those of the states

Further Clashes Between Supreme Court and State Court Authority

Cohens v. Virginia (1821)

· SC upheld its jurisdiction to review the validity of state laws in criminal proceedings

· Article 3

Section 3. Judicial Exclusivity in Constitutional Interpretation

· Supremacy Clause: ROL→ It is exclusively the court’s duty to interpret the constitution and say what the law is; Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution the Supreme Law of the Land and is therefore binding on all the states, regardless of any state laws contradicting it.

Cooper v. Aaron (1958)

· Gov. of Ark. refused to obey a Supreme Court order to integrate schools after deciding Brown v. Board of Education. The State legislature had amended its constitution to oppose desegregation.

· Court held that the Brown decision was binding upon the states and they were required to comply with the integration order despite being repugnant to Arkansas state laws

· ROL → Article V provides that Congress can initiate an amendment to the Constitution and the amendment process can be used to overturn a constitutional interpretation of the Supreme Court

· Came about in response to the situation in Arkansas when the state refused to follow the desegregation ordered in Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

· was signed by all nine justices to demonstrate the power of the Supreme Court

· governor brought national guard in to prevent black kids from going to school

· asserting constitutional rights on state governments by the federal

· served as a judicial review of sorts

· would completely shoot down Abraham Lincoln’s position on the Dred Scot

· case of litigating again and again until the court yielded

The Authoritativeness of Supreme Court Decisions

3. Are Supreme Court interpretations binding on Congress?

Dickerson v. United States (2000) (Remember this case from Crim Pro where congress tries to overrule Miranda!!)

· Held that Congress cannot legislatively supersede Supreme Court decisions interpreting and applying the U.S. Constitution

o Landmark decision.

· Challenged the recitation of “Miranda rights”

· Congress passed a law to relax the necessity of Miranda rights in investigation

· Rehnquist expressed an opinion declaring his dislike of their existence, but of the unconstitutionality of limiting their necessity as Congress tried to do

· Congress however has no right to challenge court decisions by act in the first place, and Rehnquist pointed this out

4. Are Supreme Court interpretations binding on the executive branch?

c. Lincoln.

Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

· African-American is not a U.S. citizen and cannot sue in court over slavery.

d. Roosevelt.

Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. (1935)

· Reformed the Supreme Court

· Seen as an insult and scared people because they thought FDR was trying to reduce the Supreme Court to an agency run by the President.

· Roosevelt loses, and his “Court Packing Plan” is rejected.

· Seen as an attack, and “near death” experience by the Supreme Court.

Political Restraints on the Supreme Court

1. Judicial Selection: Nomination and Confirmation Process

· Art. II § 2, cl. 2 provides that the appointment of Justices will not be effective unless the President obtains the “Advice and Consent of the Senate”

2. Impeachment

· Art. III, § 1 confers presumptive life tenure

· Art. II, § 4 provides that any officer of the United States, including judges, may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors

3. Court Packing

· Art. III, § 2 provides that Congress sets the size and budget for the Court

4. Court Stripping

· Art. III, § 2 gives Congress power to make exceptions to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction

Ex Parte McCardle (1869)

· Held that the Sup. Ct. lacked jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus b/c Congress has power under the Constitution to limit the court’s appellate jurisdiction….

· The Constitution established the judicial courts, and their organization, which conferred their power/authority.

· “with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress shall make.”…

· Congress repealed an act authorizing the Court to grant habeas corpus to anyone restrained in violation of the Constitution and in doing so limited its jurisdiction)

· was the best example of court-stripping, as Congressional legislation prevented the Court from hearing the case altogether

· law changed the jurisdiction regarding military crimes

5. Constitutional Amendments

· Art. V talks about two methods:

o Congress, by 2/3 vote, may propose amendments for ratification of 3/4 of states; or

o 2/3 of states may apply to congress to call a constitutional convention

Chapter 2: The Nation and the States in the Federal System

· Necessary and Proper Clause

o (Art. I, §8, cl. 18) → “The Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws, which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) was the third “structural case”

· Held that Congress had the power to create a national bank in Maryland because although not within its enumerated powers, it falls under the “necessary and proper” clause…

· BUT State of Maryland could not impose a tax on the bank b/c states cannot tax or interfere with any Constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the Federal Gov.

· Maryland asserted the power to tax the Bank of the United States in Maryland

· McCulloch was the cashier in the branch

· began with the ongoing question of whether or not Congress has the authority to incorporate a bank

· Maryland claimed that federal power comes from the states

· Marshall responds to this claim by asserting that federal power comes from the Constitution, and that comes directly from the people as a whole

· points out that the 10th amendment dropped the word “expressly” when moved from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution

· this is perhaps

refore within the stream of commerce

· determined the stream of commerce follows the beginning of the distributing process until it ends

· Congress is thus allowed to regulate illegally fixed prices on products that may be leaving the state

4. National “Police” Regulation

Champion v. Ames (1903) (The Lottery Case)

· Court upheld Federal Lottery Act, which prohibited importing, mailing, or interstate transporting of lottery tickets…

· Congress can use the commerce power to prohibit the movement of harmful items that move through interstate commerce as a police power to protect the public health.

· regarded the “police power” of Congress to regulate things deemed morally wrong such as gambling and prostitution

· Congress was allowed to ban the transporting of lottery tickets across states

· case demonstrated Congress’s complete power of regulation, to the extent of even prohibiting goods

· Fuller’s dissent cites the 10 Amendment and the blurring of state lines with this new expanding federal power

Hipolite Egg Co. v. United States (1911)

· established that outlawed items may be seized anywhere

· state lines don’t matter in this area

Hoke v. United States (1913)

· interstate commerce includes human trafficking

· it would now be a federal offense to do so

· The Court viewed the objects of the past two cases as “evil in themselves” and would allow Congress to regulate them with no Constitutional question involved

· There are certain areas where Congress simply does not have power

· Health, welfare, and morals may not be regulated under normal circumstances, but applying the conditions to commerce expands Congress’s power to enforce them

o even without real substantial economic interest proven

Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) (The Child labor Case)

· A statute enacted by Congress aimed at standardizing the ages at which children may be employed in mining/manufacturing within the states

· Congress cannot regulate the production of articles even if they are intended for interstate commerce b/c production is a purely local matter; doing so would subject all local manufacturer intended for interstate commerce to federal regulation)

· came in response to a federal labor law restricting working conditions

· Congress cited Champion v. Ames in wanting to suppress “bad” things

o as worked in Hipolite Egg and Hoke as well

· the court however makes a distinction between products and manufacturing

o selling children would be illegal (Hoke), but using them is not

o a difference arises in what they determine “intrinsically evil”

· removing this law would allow Congress to regulate every step of commerce

· Congress however worried that differing state laws would undermine federalism

o a well-regulated economic standpoint would level the national playing field, not just help morality

· Holmes’s dissent says the question is actually of the constitutionality

o not about inherent evils, just the concept of commerce alone

o this is still interstate commerce, so Congress should have power

o their necessary power should not be reduced simply for the effect that it may have on the states

o he called for consistency toward Hoke, Hipolite Egg, and Ames

Section 2. The Commerce Power and the New Deal

1. The Supreme Court’s Invalidation of New Deal Measures

· The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and National Recovery Administration (NRA) were Roosevelt’s attempts to turn the country around during the Depression:

o drafted codes of regulation for each industry to follow

o but had no way of enforcing them legally

o they would have to pass constitutionality tests in the Supreme Court

· the term “non-delegation doctrine” involves the government’s separation of powers

· there are constitutional limits on the amount of power Congress may give to other individuals or agencies

· they were therefore unable to give Roosevelt the exclusive powers he would need to enact the necessary New Deal legislation unconstitutional to give legislative power to a non-legislative body

Schecter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935) (Sick Chicken Case)

· Held that congress could not regulate the wage, hour, and trade practices of the poultry industry

· the Act applied to purely intrastate commerce and exceeded the commerce power b/c the Slaughterhouse only sold to local retailers, which were not subject to federal control)

· president’s agencies wanted to regulate the national poultry industry

· Schechter’s activities took place intrastate like in Shreveport however, but Congress wanted the power to regulate it like it had done in the past

· court decided this one went too far and was truly within state lines this time

o threw out the NRA’s policy

o stated that economic crises do not change the constitutionality of actions

· concurrences addressed Roosevelt and he is not happy with the result