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Constitutional Law I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Barnes, Robin D.

Constitutional Law Outline

Prigg v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – slave and her children move from slave to free state and slaveowner hires someone to go capture her. At the time there was a PA law that prohibited the use of force to remove any person from the state to return them to slavery

Dred Scott v. Sanford – Congress admits Missouri as a slave state but prohibits slavery in northern territories. Court declares Missouri Compromise unconstitutional and says that slaves are not citizens – they are property.


The Authority of Judicial Review

Supreme Court has power to review the constitutionality of federal and state laws and executive actions

Marbury v. Madison – Judicial review of executive and legislative acts and establishes Article III as the ceiling limit of federal court jurisdiction.

Limits on Federal Judicial Power

Interpretive Limits

i. Art. III limits federal court jurisdiction

Congressional Limits

i. Federal court may hear matter only when there is constitutional AND statutory authorization

ii. Ex Parte McCardle – editor arrested for writing articles criticizing Reconstruction and military rule in the South after Civil War

1. Congress can regulate SC’s appellate jurisdiction under Exceptions and Regulations Clause of Art. III in the CONSTITUTION

2. Supreme Court couldn’t proceed and dismissed the case because they had no jurisdiction

Justiciability Limits (Standing, ripeness, Mootness, Political Question, No Advisory Opinion)

i. Constitutional v. Prudential Requirements

1. Constitutional – interpreted through Art. III

2. Prudential – not from Constitution but from prudent judicial administration – wise policy militates against judicial review

a. Congress can override prudential BUT NOT constitutional

ii. Prohibition of Advisory Opinions

1. federal courts can’t issue advisory opinion

a. separation of powers, keep cts out of the legislative process

b. conserve judicial resources – don’t assess until it’s a problem

c. Ensure that cases are about specific disputes – not hypothetical situations

iii. Standing

1. Constitutional Standing Requirements (3: injury, causation, redressability)

a. Allen v. Wright – parents of black school kids says IRS hasn’t adopted sufficient standards to deny tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private schools

i. Parents don’t have standing – not personal, and no evidence to show causal link

ii. Standing built on “separation of powers” – limits matters the judiciary will address and minimizes judicial review of actions of other branches of gov’t

b. MA v. EPA – Global warming harm is sufficient to permit a state to sue the federal EPA for failure to promulgate regulations to deal with greenhouse emissions

2. Prudential Standing Requirements

a. 2 Major prudential standing requirements – (1) prohibition of 3rd party standing (2) prohibition of generalized grievances

i. Generally can’t present claims of 3rd parties – but if P meets standing requirements, they can present claims

b. Singleton v. Wulff – Two physicians get standing to challenge state statute that prohibits state Medicaid benefits to pay for non-therapeutic abortions à Ct says this denies them payment for particular medical services

1. Closeness of relationship between P and injured 3rd party

2. Likelihood that 3rd party can sue on its own behalf – “best able proponent”

c. Elk Grove v. Newdow – Father sues school on behalf of daughter bc of “under God” in their pledge.

i. Ct refuses father’s 3rd party standing – mother and not father has legal custody

3. Ripeness

a. 3rd Major justiciability doctrine – determines when review is appropriate à separates matters that are premature for review because injury is speculative and never may occur

i. Ct considers the (1) hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration and (2) fitness of the issues for judicial decision

b. Poe v. Ulman – Married women for whom pregnancy is medically unadvisable and doctors file lawsuit against statute the prohibits distribution or use of contraceptives

i. Ct says unripe bc only 1 other prosecution in 80 years – and state didn’t really enforce the law; so no real hardship in not looking at the case

4. Mootness

a. Mootness – doctrine of standing in a time frame

b. Case may be moot – if civil Plaintiff dies where cause of action doesn’t survive death; parties settle, no live controversy; challenged law is repealed or expires

c. EXCEPTIONS à (1) capable of repetition but easily evade review

5. The Political Question Doctrine

a. Refers to subject matter that the Court has deemed inappropriate for judicial review – and needs to be left to accountable branches of government

b. PQD– What is a political question? Malapportionment and Partisan Gerrymandering

i. Baker v. Carr – Court holds malapportionment cases justiciable because they violate the equal protection clause

c. PQD: Foreign Policy

i. Court generally holds cases presenting issues related to foreign affairs pose political questions

ii. Goldwater v. Carter – President Carter rescinds treaty with Taiwan to recognize PRC – senator Goldwater argues that needs 2/3 senate approval

1. Court holds it a political question à nothing in Constitution governing rescission of treaties –dispute between gov’t branches


Intro: Congress and the States

Competing Approaches à (1) Congress may act only if there is express or implied authority to act in the Constitution; (2) states may act unless the Constitution prohibits the action

i. 10th Amendment – “powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

McCulloch v. Maryland – Maryland wants to tax a Bank of US

i. Ct asks whether congress can establish bank and if states can tax it

1. Congress HAS power to incorporate bank à Congress allowed to make “necessary and proper” laws to execute powers vested in Constitution // looks at “necessary” – does NOT have to be indispensible, ct rejects the restrictive view

2. MD can’t tax – it would impede operation// Federal Gov > State

The Commerce Power

es and Executive Agreements

1. Treaties – agreement with another country negotiated by POTUS, effective when ratified by 2/3 Senate

2. Executive Agreements – agreement with another country negotiated and authorized by POTUS

ii. Dames & Moore v. Regan – President Carter negotiates executive agreement to free hostages and in exchange US will lift freeze on Iranian assets in the US and end all pending lawsuits

1. Ct holds executive agreement constitutional because of federal statutes and history

Presidential Power and the War on Terrorism


i. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld – American citizen captured in Afghanistan war area, and detained as “enemy combatant”

1. Court holds that government can detain the citizen as enemy combatant – BUT he is owed Due Process, can argue habeas corpus petition

a. Matthews test à balance interests of the individual, with government interests

ii. Boumediene v. Bush – Aliens detained at Guantanamo

1. Ct holds unconstitutional to preclude alien detainees from habeas corpus jurisdiction – US doesn’t have sovereignty, but there is de facto sovereignty

Articles of Impeachment – 2x off TWEN


A. Preemption of State and Local Laws

Implied Preemption

i. Conflict Preemption

1. If a federal and state law are mutually exclusive, so that a person can comply with both, the federal law preempts state law

2. Florida Lime & Avocado Growers Inc v. Paul, Director, Dept. of Agriculture of CA (1963) – CA gauges maturity of avocados differently than from Fed code

a. Pre-emption found where compliance with both state and Fed is impossible, even if no express pre-emption. à no problem here because states can comply with both regulations

b. Preemption bc Federal Law Occupies the Field

i. Preemption where there is a clear congressional intent to have federal law occupy a particular area of law

ii. Hines, Secretary of Labor & Industry of Pennsylvania v. Davidowitz (1941) – State Act requires all aliens 18+ to register every year an provide info – force them to carry IDs // then FED enacts similar legislation but with different terms

1. States can’t conflict, interfere, curtail, or complement the FED law or enforce additional or auxiliary regulations

a. States can’t enact laws in a field that Fed gov’t has exercised superior authority (express or implied)

b. ((Article VI)) – Supremacy Clause – states can’t add or take away from treaty or statute established by the US