Constitutional Law Outline
The Role of the Courts in Constitutional Interpretation
I. Judicial Review and Constitutional Structure
a. The origins and theory of judicial review
i. Marbury v. Madison: Establishment of Judicial Review
1. Power of courts to declare legislation or executive acts invalid as unconstitutional
a. Implied power of the court
a. Marbury had a right to his commission.
b. Marbury had a judicially enforceable remedy because
i. Court provide a remedy for every wrong BUT
ii. Political acts of the President and cabinet done within their discretion are not reviewable by the court.
c. Marbury was not entitled to mandamus by the Supreme Court
i. The act was unconstitutional because it gave the court original jurisdiction, contrary to the Art. III grant of jurisdiction over diplomats or between two states. When a statute and the Constitution conflict,
1. Constitution, as a higher law, prevails
2. It is emphatically the province and duty of the court to say what the law is.
d. Justifications for Judicial Review
i. Inferred in a written Constitution
ii. Necessary to the judicial role of interpreting law
iii. Implied from the command of the supremacy clause that the Constitution is the supreme law of the law
1. Binding on the state courts
iv. Article III gives federal courts jurisdiction over cases arising under the Constitution
v. Implied from the fact that judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution.
ii. Judicial Review of State Statute
1. Planned Parenthood v. Casey
a. Plurality Opinion—Reasons for upholding the central holding in Roe v. Wade
i. Precedent—circumstances in Roe have not changed since that decision, thus no reason to overturn the decision.
ii. Covenant—Court stays true to the covenant, the fundamental right of all. If the court stays true, those who disagree with the outcome cannot argue that the court abandoned the covenant.
iii. Credibility—overruling Roe, absent some clear error, would undermine the judicial power
b. Dissenting Opinion—nothing in the Constitution supports the idea that abortion is a fundamental right.
i. Invalidating the PA statute removes the issue from the democratic process by cutting out the will of the people and substituting the court’s will
iii. Judicial Exclusivity in Constitutional Interpretation?
1. Cooper v. Aaron
a. Court’s power to interpret the Constitution is exclusive when the other contender is a state.
b. Less clear when the contender is congress or president
eciding the case based on federal law UNLESS the state court includes in its opinion a plain statement of its reliance solely on state law.
a. State constitutions usually afford more protection than the minimum safeguards imposed by the Federal Constitution.
b. EXAMPLE—Warrantless searches of garbage bags on the street are valid under federal law. If a state Supreme Court rules that warrantless searches of garbage bags violates the state Constitution, the Supreme Court is barred from reviewing the case.
3. Application of the Doctrine—The Supreme Court may still decide that the state law was not independent of federal law or was not an adequate basis for a decision, even if the state court includes the “reliance statement” in its opinion.
a. The decision must Adequately rest on state law.
i. EXAMPLE of inadequate decision—Where state procedural rule bars consideration of a federal claim, state law ground for decision is inadequate if
1. Law was created with the intent of barring the federal claim OR
2. Unreasonable interference with federal rights.
b. The decision must be Independent from federal law.
i. EXAMPLE of decision that is not independent—Where state court finds that a state law violates the state Constitution but treats the substantive contents of the state Constitution as defined by the Federal Constitution.
1. State determines state tax liability by using a federal standard to measure the claim
2. Distinguish opinions that cite federal cases as a guide, not to reach an outcome.