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Constitutional Law I
University of Alabama School of Law
Horwitz, Paul

Constitutional Law Outline

The Supreme Court’s Authority and Role
1. The Power of Judicial Review—Marbury v. Madison
a. Background
i. Marbury sued SecState James Madison, demanding a writ of mandamus to get Madison to deliver his commission
b. Issues involved in the case:
i. Does Marbury have a right to the commission?
ii. If so, do the laws of the US afford him a remedy?
iii. If so, can the Supreme Court issue this remedy?
c. Marbury’s right to the commission
i. Marshall ruled that the commission was a form of property, and that it “vested” when signed and sealed
d. Remedy provided by the US’s laws
i. Marshall: “the very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws, whenever he receives an injury”
ii. Also, Marshall said that no man—even the POTUS—is above the law
iii. The Court also drew a distinction as to when the judiciary could afford relief: the judiciary could provide remedies against the executive when there is a specific duty to a particular person, but not when it is a political matter left to executive discretion
e. Ability of SCOTUS to issue the remedy
i. Marbury establishes 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 (political questions). But where the executive has a legal duty to act or refrain from acting, the federal judiciary can provide a remedy
ii. SCOTUS concluded that §13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized mandamus on original jurisdiction.
iii. SCOTUS also concluded that Article III enumerated its original jurisdiction and that Congress could not enlarge it, which they had under §13. Thus, they struck down a law passed by Congress as being unconstitutional.
f. Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
i. Established constitutional basis for review of state court decisions by SCOTUS
g. Cooper v. Aaron
i. Reaffirmed the principle that federal courts also have the authority to review the constitutionality of state laws and the actions of state officials
2. Justiciability Doctrines
a. Introduction
i. Justiciability doctrines determine which matters federal courts can hear and decide and which must

not conjectural or hypothetical
2. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of (government actually caused harm to the plaintiff)
3. It must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision
ii. 3 Prudential Requirements
1. Third Party Standing—the plaintiff must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties
a. Exception—An individual is permitted to assert the rights of third parties where there is a close relationship between the advocate and the third party, such as in the buyer-seller relationship in Craig v. Boren
b. Exception—the overbreadth doctrine permits a person to challenge a statute on the ground that it violates the First Amendment rights of third parties not before the court, even though the law is constitutional as applied to that defendant