Select Page

Constitutional Law I
SUNY Buffalo Law School
McCluckey Alyssa

I.                    Judicial Power to enforce the constitution: Life tenure of the federal judiciary insulates judges from influence, increases the likelihood of principled review rather than politically motivated decisions and creates legitimacy in the legal method. Furthermore, it is the duty and province of the judiciary to say what the law is and as the Constitution is a kind of written law, the courts are best suited to construe and interpret it
a.       Invalidation of Fed laws: Marbury v. Madison was the first case to establish judicial authority to review and invalidate federal laws that conflicted with provisions in the Constitution. It also established that the judiciary could review Executive Branch actions for constitutional or statutory violations. The right of the Supreme Court to act as a check on the other branches of the federal government was uncertain before this case, but firmly established after the decision issued
b.      Article III: federal judicial power shall be vested in one SC and in such inferior courts as the congress may from time to time ordain and establish. 
1.       Section II: specifies type of jurisdiction ct has: 1) arising under constitution, an act of congress, or federal treaty, 2) US is a party, 3) btwn a state and citizens of another, 4) diversity cases. Also states that SC has appellate jurisdiction
Marbury v. Madison: : Constitution is “law” and it is the province and duty of the judiciary to declare what the law is—horizontal check. Rule of Law: In litigation before the Supreme Court, the Court may refuse to give effect to an act of Congress, where, in the Court’s own view, that act is repugnant to the Constitution. Rule of Law: Congress cannot grant power or pass laws that exceed the scope of the Constitution. The Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of the Constitution, has the final say.
Judiciary Act of 1789: unconstitutional bc tried to enlarge cts jurisdiction beyond article 3-can grant less, but not more.
                                                              i.            Title 28 USC
c.       Invalidation of state laws: (art VI supremacy clause: federal law is supreme. The Supreme Court has the final word on any constitutional or federal law issueàachieves the uniformity necessary for the nation, an area of concurrent jx for fed’l and state Cts)
                                                              i.      Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee: Land that originally was held by a British lord and passed to Martin is the legal owner of the land b/c the U.S. made a treaty w/ British that it would honor all the British title’s to land. Virginia cannot decide to operate under its own law which escheated all the British held land to the state that then sold it to Hunter and to Hunter’s lessee—this title is not valid. RULE:The Supreme Court of the United States may exercise appellate jurisdiction over decisions of state courts that are within the scope or rant of the Constitution and which Congress has given them the power to hear (pursuant to “and under such regulations as Congress shall make” language from Art. III)
                                                            ii.      Original Jurisdiction: In cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls, and those in which a

not pass upon the validity of a statute for a complainant who fails to show that he is injured by its operation. STANDING, a real case or controversy
6.       The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its benefits. ‘Must come to CT w/ clean hands’
7.       When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided, even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is raised.
8.       If a case decided by a state court rests on both state and federal constitutional grounds, and the state grounds are independent of the fed’l constitution and adequate to support the state court’s decision, the Court will not hear on appeal the fed’l constitutional law question.  
9.       The Court will not infer that Congress intends to regulate the states unless the legislation Plainly States it applies to the states—same for whether Congress intended to abrogate state sovereign immunity as in 11th AM, Seminole Tribe. 
10.   Court begins with the assumption that the statute is constitutional
f.        State constitution vs. US constitution
                                                              i.      State v. gunwall