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Constitutional Law I
University of Alabama School of Law
Fair, Bryan

Constitutional Law
Spring 2012
Importance of Article III
1.      Created federal judicial system
2.      Vested the judicial power in one supreme court and in such inferior courts as congress may from time to time ordain and establish
3.      Ensured the independence of the federal judiciary by according all federal judges life tenure, “during good behavior,” and salaries that cannot be decreased during their time in office.
4.      Defines the federal judicial power in terms of nine categories of cases and controversies. These nine categories fall into two major types of provisions
(1) Federal Question
(2) Diversity
5.      Allocates judicial powers between the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts
6.      Prescribes that the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury.
7.      Treason shall consist only in “levying war” against the United State or giving aid or comfort to the enemies and that no person shall be convicted of treason except on testimony of two witnesses or confession in open court.
Marbury established the power of the judiciary to review the constitutionality of executive actions. Some matters – such as whether to veto a bill or who to appoint for an office – are entirely within the president’s discretion and cannot be judicially reviewed. But where the executive has a legal duty to act or refrain from acting, federal judiciary can provide a remedy, including a writ of mandamus.
Although the Court’s authority stems from the Constitution, it is conferred with such exceptions and under such regulations as congress shall make. MCCARDLE
Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause. MCCARDLE
We are not at liberty to inquire into the motives of the legislature. We can only examine into its power under the Constitution; and the power to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction of this court is given by express words. MCCARDLE
Congress may not restrict Supreme Court jurisdiction in an attempt to dictate substantive outcomes.
It seems to us that this is not an exercise of the acknowledged power of Congress to make exceptions and prescribe regulations to the appellate power. KLEIN
Marbury v. Madison
In an attempt to retain power after being defeated in the election of 1800, the Federalists created new federal judgeships and filled them with members of their party before Jefferson officially took office. William Marbury was confirmed through this process. His commission was signed by President Adams and then sealed by Secretary of State James Madison. Before his commission could be delivered, though, Jefferson took office and ordered that all undelivered commissions be withheld. As an original action in the Supreme Court, Marbury sought a writ of mandamus to compel the delivery of his commission. Marbury claimed that the Judiciary Acct of 1789 Section 13 gave the Supreme Court the “power to issue writs [of] mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law to [any] persons holding office, under the authority of the United States.”
Marbury has a legal right to his commission, and a writ of mandamus is the appropriate remedy, but under the constitution, the Supreme Court lacks the power to issue it. Because the Judiciary Act of 1789 violates the constitution, the law must be discharged.
Issue [1] Does Marbury Have a Right to the Commission?
Holding [1] Yes. It is decidedly the option of the court, that when a commission has be signed by the President, the appointment is made, and that the commission is complete, when the seal of the United States has been affixed to it by the Secretary of State
Reasoning [1] Delivery is merely a custom and that therefore withholding Marbury’s commission was “violative of a vested legal right”
Issue [2] Do the laws of this country afford Marbury a remedy?
Holding [2] Yes. The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the law, whenever he receives an injury
Reasoning [2] The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of law, and not of men (No one, not even the President is above the law)
Issue [3] Can the Supreme Court Issue This Remedy? IS Mandamus an Appropriate Remedy?
Holding [3] No, because the constitution grants the Supreme Court only appellate jurisdiction over such cases. Therefore, the Judiciary Act of 1789, by granting the Supreme Court original jurisdiction violates the constitution, and when legislative acts are in conflict with the constitution, the constitution is supreme. 
Reasoning [3] The Court used the distinction between ministerial acts, where the executive had a duty to perform, and political acts, within the discretion of the executive. Judicial review, including mandamus, was deemed appropriate only in the former realm.
Questions, in their nature political, or which are, by the constitution and laws, submitted to the executive, can never be made in this court. But where the head of the department is directed by law to do a certain act affecting the absolute rights of individuals it is not perceived on what ground the courts of the country are further excused from the duty of giving judgment

seless, if not improper, to enter into any discussion of other questions.
The provision of the act of 1867, affirming the appellate jurisdiction of this court in cases of habeas corpus is expressly repealed. It is hardly possible to imagine a plainer instance of positive exception.
Justiciability Doctrines
The justiciability doctrines determine which matters federal courts can hear and decide and which must be dismissed. Specifically, justiciability includes the prohibition against advisory opinion, standing, ripeness, mootness, and the political question doctrine.
Advisory Opinions
The core of Article III’s limitation on federal judicial power is that federal courts cannot issue advisory opinions.
1.      Separation of powers is maintained by keeping the courts out of the legislative process
2.      Judicial resources are conserved because advisory opinions might be requested in many instances in which the law ultimately would not pass the legislature
3.      Helps ensure that cases will be presented to the Court in terms of specific disputes, not as hypothetical legal questions
For a case to be justiciable and not an advisory opinion, two criteria must be met;
1.      There must be an actual dispute between adverse litigants
2.      There must be a substantial likelihood that a federal court decision in favor of the claimant will bring about some change or have some effect
Standing is the determination of whether a specific person is the proper party to bring a matter to the court for adjudication. In the essence of the question of standing is whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or of particular issues. 
The core component of the requirement that a litigant have standing to invoke the authority of a federal court is an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III. CUNO
A plaintiff must demonstrate standing separately for each form of relief sought. CUNO
That requires plaintiffs, as the parties now asserting federal jurisdiction, to carry the burden of establishing their standing under Article II CUNO