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Constitutional Law I
University of Alabama School of Law
Krotoszynski, Ronald J.

 
Constitutional Law Outline
Prof. Kroto, Spring 2015
 
 
        I.            Judicial Review: Process by which courts decide if government actions comport with the Constitution.
a.       Origins
                                                              i.      Article III
1.      SCOTUS has power over all cases arising under the laws of the U.S.
                                                            ii.      Marbury v. Madison: Establishment of JR
1.      Goes out of his way to set an important precedent in distinguishing between discretionary and ministerial acts.
a.       No high-ranking official is above the law. If the task is ministerial, it is subject to review.
                                                                                                                                      i.      “When the head of a department is directed to do a certain act affecting the absolute rights of individuals, his act is subject to judicial review.”
2.      Holding that the Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” governing both legislatures and executive actions, in addition to courts.
a.       Any rule contradicting it is void.
                                                                                                                                      i.      Cooper v. Aaron: if the EP Clause requires AR to desegregate schools, it is bound by that.
1.      Reprieve of Marbury. AR acted as if it were not bound by the SCOTUS decision, but it is “emphatically the…duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”
3.      Is JR obligatory or discretionary? Split views.
a.       Marshall would say obligatory.
b.      Judicial Review of State Courts
                                                              i.      Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (VA’s refusal to comply w/ the mandate to enter judgment for Martin against VA’s law that a nonresident couldn’t inherit land).
1.      Rule: SCOTUS has power to review state court decisions regarding federal law.
2.      Reasoning
a.       The supremacy clause.           
                                                                                                                                      i.      Implies the Framers foresaw situations where a case w/i the interest of the U.S. would come up in state court.
b.      Article III: the federal judicial power extends to all cases, including appellate power.
                                                            ii.      State decisions that implicate both state and federal law.
1.      Adequate and Independent State Grounds Doctrine.
a.       For a decision to be non-reviewable, it must rest on an adequate state basis that is independent from federal law.
                                                                                                                                      i.      So, a state need only make clear in its opinion that it’s relying on federal law for guidance only, not for the result, to avoid JR. Michigan v. Long.
b.      Otherwise, when a decision rests primarily on or is intertwined with federal law, it is subject to JR.
c.       Why have JR
                                                              i.      Five justifications (from Marbury)
1.      Structural—a written constitution is meaningless if Congress can ignore it.
a.       It has to be able to be enforced, even if unpopular.
2.      Art. III language—judicial power over cases “arising under.”
3.      Certain constitutional provisions specifically address the courts.
4.      Supremacy Clause
5.      Framers’ intent
                                                            ii.      Federal judges are unelected and thus, unaccountable to the public.
1.      They are the best to decide the best interpretation of the law.
                                                          iii.      JR promotes uniformity in the law throughout the entire U.S.
                                                          iv.      Arguments against JR
1.      What if the Court makes a mistake in its interpretation?
a.       It’s the only one that can correct itself!
b.      Amendment process
                                                                                                                                      i.      State convention
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Act of congress
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Reinterpretation of the Court over time (most common method)
2.      People and legislatures will be less inclined to understand the constitution for themselves, leaving it to the courts.
d.      Methods of interpretation
                                                              i.      Interpretivists: only true form of JR is to interpret the text of Constitution itself.
1.      Textual method
2.      Historical method: Originalism
a.       Original intent of the drafters.
                                                                                                                                      i.      Problem: whose intent counts?
b.      Original meaning of the text.
                                                                                                                                      i.      Problem: what was normal then might not be now!
                                                            ii.      Noninterpretivists: Constitution should be a mirror of society’s present norms and situations, regardless of what the text means.
1.      Idea of “natural justice”
                                                          iii.      Calder v. Bull
1.      Chase view = natural justice.
2.      Irondale view:
a.       A court can’t declare an act of the legislature invalid if it acts within the general scope of the Constitution, simply bc it goes against what the Court has deemed to be natural justice.
                                                                                                                                      i.      The ideas of natural justice are regulated “by no fixed standard.” The legislature is just as capable of defining that as the Court is.
                                                          iv.      Other methods
1.      Structural: a particular principle/result is implicit in the structures of government and/or the relationship btwn branches.
2.      Doctrinal/Common law: derived from precedent; i.e. stare decisis.
3.      Prudential: advance particular doctrines according to practical wisdom.
4.      Cultural: moral concepts of justice rooted in widely shared norms.
e.       Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts
                                                              i.      Congress-imposed
1.      Congressional power to control the juris of federal courts comes from Article III
a.       “One Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may establish.”
b.      SC

                                                                                                                      i.      Special relationship
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      Impossibility/impracticality of the 3rd party asserting their own rights
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      Risk that rights of the 3rd party will be diluted or lost otherwise.
2.      Traceability: injury can be traced to alleged wrongdoer.
3.      Redressability: there is legal relief for the injury.
a.       Claim must be within the zone of interest meant to be protected by the statute.
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Organizational standing
1.      An org can sue on behalf of its members if:
a.        The member would have individual standing
b.      The interests are related to the org’s purpose
c.       The claim doesn’t require member’s participation in the suit.
                                                                                                                                  iv.      What is standing really?
1.      Whatever the Court says it is. However, a plaintiff must be SURE to show it clearly, or risk the case being dismissed.
b.      Advisory Opinions
                                                                                                                                      i.      Federal courts may not render advisory opinions. Correspondence of the Justices.
1.      Limited to real litigants with real grievances.
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Constitutional justification: A judge’s decision should be final and not subject to alteration by other branches.
1.      Concern Court could be sucked into political disputes btwn Pres and Congress.
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Policy justification: danger in deciding abstract questions law.
1.      Lack of zealous advocacy
2.      Possibility of overbroad decisions w/ no real world application.
                                                                                                                                  iv.      Only when the Court exercises the judicial power of the U.S. can something be an advisory opinion.
1.      i.e., when the Court is together as a collegial body.