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Constitutional Law I
University of Kansas School of Law
Levy, Richard E.

Constitutional Law

Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review
– Case resulted from the failure of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State, to deliver judicial commission to Marbury
– Marshall’s decision as basis for Federal supremacy and of judicial review
– Decided that the US is a rule of law state, therefore, any official bound by a legal duty to do something must do it or face the consequences which would come in some form of legal remedy
– Judiciary Act authorized the SC to issue writs of mandamus in such situations, Marshall decided that if the Judiciary Act was valid, then Marbury was entitled to the writ of mandamus
– SC has power to review laws to decide if they are in conflict with the constitution because the constitution is the established supreme law of the United States and it is the province of the court to decide what the law is
– Judiciary Act was invalid because it gave original jurisdiction to SC for these types of mandamus hearings, which was in conflict with Article III
– Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee – SC claimed right to review constitutionality of state court decisions based on two arguments
– States are not supremely sovereign over the federal government
– There is a need to encourage uniform interpretation of the constitution

Vertical Federalism
McCulloch v. Maryland
– Involved charter of national bank after War of 1812; bank became unpopular and states, including Maryland, passed statutes burdening the bank; Maryland’s specifically imposed a tax on the bank, and when the state sued the cashier of the bank to recover the tax, the case went to the SC
– Power to charter the bank was not an enumerated power of Congress, but rather an implied or ancillary power coming from the interpretation of the “necessary and proper” clause to mean that Congress had some discretion to carry out duties listed in the enumerated powers
– “Necessary” does not imply strict necessity, means appropriate steps plainly adapted to the end; end must be legitimate and within an enumerated power, and means must be appropriate and not inconsistent with the constitution
– Could Maryland tax the bank? State may not impair a valid federal operation because of federal supremacy, and therefore, a state may not tax the bank because this would be an impairment on a federal operation
– Political process – federal govt. may tax state govt. because states are represented within the fed. govt.; however, state govt. may not tax fed. govt. because fed. govt. is not represented within state govt.
Evolution of the Commerce Power
– Commerce clause give Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes”
– Early framework
– Gibbons v. Ogden – court formulated a broad view of the commerce power
– Commerce – defined as commercial intercourse in all forms
– Among the states – activity must concern more than one state, but even activities wholly within one state that affect other states may be regulated, movement of the activity does not have to cross state lines
– Regulate – Congress has power to regulate in any way as long as the activity is commercial and is among the states
– This framework for the commerce power remained from its first interpretations through the 1880’s
– 1880-1937 – More restrictive reading of the commerce power
– Question began to be whether the regulation infringed upon the states’ police power, rather than whether the restricted activity was commerce among the states
– U.S. v. EC Knight – re

the motive of Congress is irrelevant as long as the activity regulated is sufficiently commercial; also held that Congress may adopt any “means reasonably adapted to the attainment of the permitted end, even if they involve control of intrastate activities.”
– Heart of Atlanta v. US, Katzenbach v. McClung – cases by which the court validated the Civil Rights Act; court found that discrimination substantially hindered interstate travel and commerce among minorities
– This framework allowed for pervasive regulation by Congress under the commerce power, as long as the activity substantially effects commerce, effects which can be cumulative, regardless of the motive of Congress’s regulation
Current Doctrine: Lopez and Morrison
– US v. Lopez illustrated that the recent court is willing to put some restrictions on Congress’s use of power under the commerce clause
– Lopez concerned the Gun-Free School Zones Act which made it a federal crime to knowingly possess a gun in a school zone; the act was passed under the commerce clause
– Court first found little connection with commerce which was relevant in certain areas; first court criticized Congress’s lack of explicit finding as to how the activity effected commerce, also criticized the fact that Congress did not include a clause providing a jurisdictional nexus (i.e. that the gun possessed moved in interstate commerce or was otherwise connected with commerce)