– Creates National Government and Separates Power
o Article 1 – Creates the legislative power and vests it in Congress
o Article II – Places Executive power in the President of the US
o Article III – Provides that the judicial power of the US shall be in the supreme court and such inferior courts as congress creates
– Divides Power between the Federal and State Governments
o 10th amendment – the powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.
– Protects Individual Liberties
o Article 1 §9-10 – neither the federal nor state gov can enact an ex post facto law (punishes conduct that was lawful when it was done) or bill of attainder (punishes only one particular person)
Interpreting the Constitutions
– Standards of Review
o Mere Rationality – easiest to satisfy
§ Legitimate State Objective – any type of health, safety, or general welfare goal will be found legitimate
§ Rationale Relation – has to be rational relation between the means chosen by the gov and the objective. Only if the gov acted in a completely arbitrary and irrational way will a link not be found
o Strict Scrutiny – hardest to satisfy
§ Compelling Objective – Must be compelling, not just legitimate
§ Necessary Means – the means chosen must be necessary to achieve the compelling end
· There must not be any less restrictive means that would accomplish the governments objectives just as well
o Middle-Level Review
§ Important Objective
§ Substantially related Means
– Levels of Review
o L1 – Look to specific language of the constitution and see what it says
o L2 – What can be implied from the written document
o L3 – Original intent of the framers of the constitution
o L4 – court is doing what they think is right
Supreme Courts Authority and Federal Judicial Power
– The authority for Judicial Review of Congressional and Presidential Actions
o It is the SCOTUS, not Congress, which has the authority and duty to declare a congressional statute unconstitutional if the court thinks it violates the constitution
Marbury v. Madison P was last minute judicial appointee of outgoing pres Adams and Jefferson refused to deliver his commission.Congress expanded courts power allowing them original jurisdiction for this case which constitution did not have in it
Issue – 1) Does P have right of commission. 2) Does P have legal Remedy 3) Can SCOTUS review congress decisions 4) Does congress have authority to expand power of SCOTUS
While P has right of commission and legal remedy. When the constitution conflicts with the laws enacted by congress, the SCOTUS may declare such laws unconstitutional and invalid.
Defensive Judicial Review
– SCOTUS determine what is meant by the Constitution and everyone ese is bound by it
o SCOTUS can tell other branches what to do
The Authority for Judicial Review of State and local actions
– The SCOTUS is the singular revising authority to control discordant state court judgments and harmonize them into uniformity, or the laws, treaties, and constitution could be applied differently by each state
Martin v. Hunters Lessee Land dispute – Virginia seized land that belong to British and distributed it to its own citizens. Hunter claimed he got the land from Virginia and martin claimed the British gave him the land
ISSUE = Does SCOTUS have jurisdiction of the state courts as well and the federal courts
Art. III indicates that S. Ct. does have appellate jurisdiction over state courts – “In all cases affecting… the S. Ct. shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the S. Ct. shall have appellate jurisdiction…” (Art. III § 2)
Cohens v. VA two brothers selling DC lottery tickets in VA where it is illegal. Brothers said they are protected by supremacy clause and since congress said lotto tickets were legal they were legal everywhere
ISSUE – Does SCOTUS have power to review state ruling on criminal procedures / Appellate decisions
the Constitution made the federal judiciary was the ultimate constitutional arbiter. While the states could interpret their own laws, any federal question must ultimately be resolved, only by the federal courts.
Cooper v. Aaron AK Gov Challenged Brown v. Board of ED and would not integrate school
ISSUE – Are people not party to the case bound by Supreme Court Decisions
Since the 14th ammendmant makes federal law binding on the states every state officer has to carry out such law. Supreme court acted as legislature in brown – that case was not just applicable to parties in brown but to all parties
POLITICAL RESTRAINTS ON THE SUPREME COURT
– Congress has the general power to decide what types of cases the supreme court may hear, so long as it doesn’t expand the supreme courts jurisdiction beyond the federal judicial power.
Ex Parte McCardle McCardle, newspaper editor, was imprisoned for publishing incendiary materials & appealed his petition to S. Ct. S. Ct. granted appeal & heard arguments, but before it reached a dec’n, Congress took away S. Ct.’s power to review such petitions
Const. expressly permits Congress to limit S. Ct.’s appellate jurisdiction (Art. III § 2) S. Ct. can’t question motives of Congress
Political Question Doctrine
– “Political questions” are typically non reviewable by courts.
o Reasons for this can be as follows. If one of them is irremovable from the case at bar, it is nonjusticiable:
o Commitment to another branch – court will refuse to decide a case on political question grounds if the cases raises an issue which the constitution has assigned to another branch of federal government
o judicial standards – Lack of manageable judicial standards for resolving the issue
o nonjudicial policy determination – Impossibility of deciding the issue without an initial nonjudicial policy determination (such as privacy protection being reserved for the legislature to determine)
o lack of respect due – Impossibility of the court acting without showing a “lack of respect due” to the other branches of government
o prior-made political decision – Unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a prior-made political decision
o Potentiality of embarrassment.
Commitment to another branch
Nixon v. US D, a judge, was impeached by a trial by senate subcommittee instead of the full senate
This is political question and non justicable – Constitution gave the senate and not the courts power to decide what constitutes a trial
§ One person one vote rule – any governmental body, must be apportioned on a population bases, so that all voters have essentially the same voting power.
§ If this principle is not complied with Equal protection is violated
Baker v. Carr Voters in TN argued that the districts representing the assembly needed to be reapportioned because the demographics had changed so much and that it violated Art IV §4 (Guarantee Clause – guaranteeing a republican form of gov’t)
– The “Guaranty Clause” is a nonjusticiable issue.
o The clause guarantees the states a republican foreign government, and that guarantee is reviewable only the legislature or the executive if the legislature is unavailable.
– There is also a violation of the equal protection clause, and the court does have the ability to determine whether or not the non apportionment creates a voting discrimination
Non judicial policy determination
Powell v. McCormack – Constitution gives congress power to be sole judge of qualification for its members and lists the 3 qualifications. Congress refused to seat a member for stealing but it was not one of the three qualifications.
Congress can only decide issues regarding powers given to it by constitution. Any other qualification is not within Congress’s power, it is within the S. Ct.’s power b/c unless Const. says another branch does it, then S. Ct. can adjudicate issue
prior-made political decision
Goldwater v. Carter – President terminated treaty without the approval of congress. Members sued because it deprived them of their role.
– Judicial action is barred where there is an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made.
– Issues affecting allocation of power are unreviewable. Constitutional text which grants exclusive responsibility to a particular governmental function to one of the branches, and thereby eliminating the court’s interference in the business of those other branches.
Bush v. Gore did recounting of the votes in FL violate the Equal Protection Clause b/c different counties used different methods
The fact that some people used the bad ballots and some didn’t, their votes were not counted, violating the Equal Protection Clause. They also determined that no suitable remedy could be found, and so they let Bush win.
The Federal Legislative Power – Congress may act only if there is express or implied authority to act in the constitution. States may act unless the constitution prohibits the action
– When reviewing the constitutionality of any congressional act we must ask
o Does congress have authority under the constitution to legislate?
o IF so, does the law violate another constitutional provision (infringing separation of power or interfering with civil liberties.
– When reviewing a state law we must ask
o Does the legislation violate the constitution
What is the scope of congressional authority?
McCulloch v Maryland MD passed law to tax all banks not created by them. The federal bank refused to pay tax. MD Sued
ISSUE – 1. Does congress have authority to create a federal Bank. 2, Is the tax levied on bank by MD constitutional
“Necessary and Proper Clause”( Article I, section 8, 18) establishes that when congress is acting in pursuit of a constitutionally specified objective, the means chosen has to be “rationally related to the object, not “necessary” to the objectives attainment
The States have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to impede or in any manner control any of the constitutional means employed by the U.S. government to execute its powers under the Constitution.
Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton AR statute imposed term limits on appointments to Congress, is this constitutional
Elections Clause of constitution (age, citizenship, and residence ) are exclusive. Neither Congress nor the states may alter these, because this would be contrary to the Framers’ intent. 10th amendment does not apply because states cant reserve rights that didn’t exist before.
– Article I §8 – The congress shall have the power…to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”
– Activities congress can regulate under commerce clause
o Channels – congress can regulate in a way that is reasonably related to highways, waterways, and air traffic (even if it moves completely interstate)
o Instrumentalities – People, machines, and other things used in carrying out commerce (IE – every truck must have a specific safety device even if that truck is used only in one state)
o Articles moving in interstate commerce – Things such as drivers licenses and other information that gets exchanged across state lines
o Substantially Affecting Commerce –
§ Activity is commercial – If activity is commercial than it doesn’t matter whether the particular instance of the activity directly affects interstate commerce as long as the instance is part of a generally class that collectively could substantially affect commerce.
§ Activity is not commercial – There has to be a pretty obvious connection between the activity and interstate commerce
· Activity must have substantial effect on interstate commerce
– Questions the court considers
o What is commerce – is it one stage of business or does It include all apects of business (even life in united states)
o What d
ians could sue states – abrogated state sovereign immunity pursuant to Indian Commerce Clause
Indian Commerce Clause doesn’t grant Congress power to abrogate state sovereign immunity and therefore, Congress can’t give jurisdiction over a state that doesn’t consent to be sued
Suits in States own Courts – States have constitutional sovereign immunity from private damage suits brought against them in their own state courts even if the suit is based on a congressionally granted federal right
Alden v. Maine EE’s sued ME in state court for overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act which prescribes minimum wages for all engaged in interstate commerce. The employees first sued in fed court and the case was dismissed under Seminole Tribe.
The constitutions structure incorporates the doctrine of sovereign immunity and that doctrine allows ME to avoid hearing the EE’s suit, even if congress has expressly said that the states must hear such a suit.
Kimel v. FL Bd. of Regents FL EEs sued under ADEA for being fired b/c of age. Congress abrogated state sovereign immunity in ADEA
Abrogation was unconstitutional b/c age discrimination doesn’t affect a discrete & insular minority since everyone gets old
O’Connor two-part test: 1) whether Congress unequivocally expressed its intent to authorize suits against the states, and 2) whether it acted pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional authority.
Suits involving State Agencies
Federal Maritime Comm v. S.C. State Port Auth Congress prohibited discrimination against certain vessels. P brought complaint to commission and was rejected b/c state said sovereign immunity extended to state agencies too.
Sovereign immunity from judicial proceedings extended to adjudications within federal administrative agencies. Although agencies may not have been explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, this was because they were not as prevalent as now, but the Framers’ intent would be that they do not abrogate state sovereignty. The agency’s proceedings here are too close to a lawsuit to escape the prior decisions of the court.
Federal Limits on State Regulation
– Dormant Commerce Clause – The principle that state and local laws are unconstitutional if they place an undue burden on interstate commerce even if congress has not acted.
o Justifications for the Dormant Commerce Clause
§ Historical – Framers intended to prevent state laws that iferfered with interstate commerce. Did not want states making protectionist laws that would harm other states
§ Economic – the economy is better off if state laws impeding commerce are invalidated
§ Political – States should not be harmed by laws in other states where that state has no political representation
Gibbons v. Ogden Can NY grant an exclusive monopoly to a steamboat co in violation of federal license given to another co
The ability to regulate interstate commerce is undermined when state governments try to regulate commerce that can affect several states. The fact that the commerce clause gives Congress the power “to regulate” implies that it has full power over interstate commerce and it also implies that the states have none.
Wilson v. Black-Bird Creek Marsh Co DE permitted P to build a dam to help dry out tidal areas; D sloop owner breached the dam, damaging it P argued that the state law authorizing the dam violated the Commerce Clause
If state is operating to protect the health & welfare, then state can regulate even to a degree that may interfere somewhat w/ commerce
Cooley v. Bd. of Wardens PA law required ships navigating in & out of Phila Harbor to be piloted by local; Cooley violated the law
If activity is one that does not demand a uniform system of control, the state is free to regulate the area until such time congress chooses to. where, as here, there is particular local need, having no national consequences, amounting to a safety issue states my regulate
– MODERN APPROACH –State laws that potentially run afoul of the dormant commerce clause
o Laws whose purpose is to regulate interstate commerce, or whose effects is to control out of state transactions
o Law that discriminate against interstate commerce
o Laws that do not discriminate against, but notheless burden interstate commerce
o Regulation must pursue a legitimate state end(health, welfare, local conditions); can’t just be economic reason
o The regulation must be rationally related to that legitimate state end
o The regulatory burden imposed by the state on interstate commerce must be outweighed by the states interest in enforcing regulation
Discrimination against out of state commerce
– If the state is promoting its residents own economic interests this will not be a legitimate state objective, so the regulation will virtually automatically violate the commerce clause.