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Constitutional Law I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Macgill, Hugh C.

Constitutional Law

Prof. Hugh Macgill

Spring 2012


Marbury v. Madison (1801)

Established the power of the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of federal executive actions and of federal statutes.

Judiciary Act of 1789

Provided for Supreme Court review of state court judgments.

Cooper v. Aaron (1958)

Reaffirmed that federal courts have the authority to review the constitutionality of state laws and the actions of state officials. (state cannot disregard desegregation order of federal court)

Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)

The appellate power of the Supreme Court does extend to state court rulings, and can reverse them.


Five judicially-created justiciability doctrines:

No advisory opinions, standing, ripeness, mootness, and political question doctrine

Other constitutional limits on federal judicial power:

11th A. prevents federal court relief against state governments

Court will avoid deciding constitutional issues where there are other grounds

No advisory opinions

Must meet two criteria to be justiciable:

1. actual dispute between adverse litigants

2. substantial likelihood that a federal court decision in favor of a claimant will bring about some change or have some effect


No bright line test

Three constitutional standing requirements:

1. plaintiff must allege that he or she has suffered or will imminently suffer an injury

2. plaintiff must allege that a favorable federal court decision is likely to redress the injury

3. plaintiff must allege that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant’s conduct.

Three prudential standing requirements (may be overridden by Congress):

1. a party generally may assert only his or her own rights and cannot raise the claims of third parties not before the court.

2. a plaintiff may not sue as a taxpayer who shares a grievance in common with all other taxpayers

3. a party must raise a claim within the zone of interests protected by the statute in question

Sierra Club v. Morton (1972)

A mere interest in a problem, no matter how long standing and no matter how qualified the organization is in evaluating the problem, is not sufficient.

United States v. SCRAP (1973)

Aesthetic and environmental injuries are sufficient for standing so long as the plaintiff claims to suffer the harm personally.

Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992)

Plaintiffs were not entitled to standing unless they could demonstrate that they would be injured in the future by a destruction of the endangered species abroad. The fact that they visited relevant areas in the past was not good enough.

Also, Congress may not “manufacture” standing by allowing anyone to file a lawsuit if they don’t like something. You cannot transfer the executive duty to carry out laws to the public.

City of LA v. Lyons (1983)

In order for a person to have standing to seek an injunction, the individual must allege a substantial likelihood that he will be subjected in the future to the allegedly illegal policy.

Injuries to common law, constitutional, and statutory rights are sufficient for standing.

Warth v. Seldin (1975)

Plaintiffs challenging the unconstitutionality of exclusionary zoning practices lacked standing because they could not demonstrate that the appropriate housing would be constructed without the exclusionary zoning ordinances. They still might not have been able to afford it.

Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Authority (1977)

Plaintiffs did have standing to challenge a suburb’s exclusionary zoning, because builders had developed specific plans for low-income housing that had been rejected.

Exceptions to the Prudential Standing Requirements:

a. Where the third party is unlikely to be able to sue

b. Close relationship between Plaintiff and Third Party

c. The Overbreadth Doctrine (only for 1st A.)

d. Standing for Associations

Massachusetts v. EPA (2007)

States, as sovereign entities and trustees of their people, are given greater deference for standing purposes than private citizens like in Lujan.

Raines v. Byrd

Having a “less effective” vote in the future is not itself an injury for the purposes of establishing standing (regarding the line-item veto act)


Seeks to separate matters that are premature for review, because the injury is speculative and never may occur. Two considerations, from Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner (1967):

1. the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration

2. the fitness of the issues for judicial decision

Three situations where the Court has found there is enough hardship to justify preenforcement review:

1. When an individual is faced with a choice between forgoing allegedly lawful behavior and risking likely prosecution with substantial consequences.

2. Where the enforcement of a statute or regulation is certain and the only impediment to ripeness is simply a delay before the proceedings commence.

3. When there are collateral injuries that are not the primary focus of the lawsuit.


An actual controversy must exist at all stages of federal court proceedings, at both the trial and appellate levels.

his could greatly impede its operation and potentially tax it out of existence. Also, it would essentially be a state tax on those in other states, who have no representation in the Maryland legislature and it would thus be an illegitimate tax.

Art. I, Sec. 8:

The Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

1. commerce includes all phases of business, including navigation

2. the relevant sort of commerce concerns more than one state

3. Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce is not limited whatsoever by the states

US Term Limits v. Thornton

States cannot create criteria for serving as a senator that are stricter than those found in the Constitution because the Congress is a body composed of representatives of the people, not a confederation of nations in which separate sovereigns are represented by appointed delegates.

Old Cases between 1887 and 1937:

Like EC Knight and Carter. They rest on the assumption that it makes sense to distinguish commerce from other stages of business,, and that the Constitution requires that a rigid zone of activities be left to the states. Distinction between activities having a “direct” and “indirect” relationship to interstate commerce: they had to be direct.

Themes of these Old cases:

1. Commerce was to be narrowly defined as one stage of business, separate and distinct from earlier phases such as mining, manufacturing, and production.

2. The activity must have a direct effect on interstate commerce, rather than an indirect effect. (no clear or consistent way of distinguishing, however)

3. Even if an activity was commerce and was among the states, Congress still could not regulate if it was intruding into the zone of activities reserved to the states. (Like Hammer v. Dagenhart, the Child Labor Case). Court said the 10th A. reserved control of activities such as mining, manufacturing, of production to the states. (But, in the Lottery Case, said that Congress could keep “noxious articles” from interstate commerce.) Did not consistently define the zone of activities reserved to the states.