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Constitutional Law I
University of Mississippi School of Law
Nowlin, Jack Wade

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
Professor Nowlin, Section 1
Spring 2012
 
I.  CONSTITUTION AND ITS ORIGINS
 
1.      Declaration of Independence
a.       British gov’t became despotic and violated its power.
b.      List of grievances shows how the British gov’t violated its power.
                                                   i.      List of grievances like the Bill of Rights b/c it’s a list of things gov’t can’t do, so foundational to the Bill of Rights.
c.       DOI sets out our ideals/values and basic principals at the heart of the Const.
d.      Major theme in DOI is federalism, so no surprise limited gov’t emerged.
e.       Important principles
                                                   i.      All men created equal w/ certain inalienable rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness).
                                                 ii.      Ultimate guarantee of the protection of liberty is the civic virtue of the people.
 
2.      Scheme of Gov’t the Const. Creates
a.       Foundation – people (the sovereign).
b.      Purpose – natural rights, human rights.
c.       Form – republican representative democracy
d.      Limits (2 types of limits – structural and const. rights)
                                                   i.      Limits of Structure
1.      Bicameralism – founders felt legislature was most powerful branch, so split it up to weaken it and instill competition (Senate and House).
2.      Federalism
3.      Representative democracy – the way we structure elections/selections of public officers
4.      Juries – a method of weakening judicial branch.
5.      Separation of powers ensures checks and balances. Power is not concentrated, but is diffused among the state and federal, different branches, two houses, etc.
                                                 ii.      Interrelation – Limits on structure and individual rights may interrelate.
1.      Ex: Right to jury (judiciary is here to protect that right).
 
II.  JUDICIAL POWER
 
1.      Judicial Review and the Principles of Fed’l Gov’t
a.       Power of the SC to interpret laws; if laws conflict w/ Const., have power to declare unconstitutional.
 
2.      Tocqueville
a.       Maintained judges/lawyers comprise a type of aristocracy or “juristocracy.”
b.      Anti-populist (elitist) reply – lawyers should have this much power b/c the people who know most about the law should be ruling
c.       Test hint – note whether an argument is populist or anti-populist.
 
3.      Texas v. Johnson (anti-populist decision)
a.       Statute criminalizing flag burning deemed unconstitutional.
b.      Cannot punish for burning a flag, but most Americans agree w/ dissent.
c.       Brennan (majority) – Burning done to communicate political message, which is protected as free speech. The statute prohibits the message (not the act), so it violates free speech.
d.      Dissents
                                             i.      Statute didn’t suppress free speech b/c D allowed to use other forms of protest or say anything he wanted.
                                           ii.      Flag is an intangible asset that should be protected. You can’t vandalize the Lincoln Memorial, so you shouldn’t be able to burn the flag.
 
4.      Marbury v. Madison (established judicial review)
a.       Facts
                                             i.      Judiciary Act – Gave SC original jurisdiction over issuing writs of mandamus.
                                           ii.      Marbury selected as a justice of the Peace by Adams before he left office. The commission was sealed and signed, but never delivered. Madison, as Secretary of State, was told by President Jefferson to withhold the commissions. P brings writ of mandamus under the Judiciary Act.
                                         iii.      Judiciary Act unconstitutional b/c violates Art. III, §2, which sets out the types of cases SC has original jurisdiction over. Writs of mandamus not on the list.
                                         iv.      There is a right to the commission and a remedy, but this court cannot provide a remedy b/c no jurisdiction.
b.      Majority’s Arguments
                                             i.      Constitutional supremacy – SC can’t be granted powers by Congress that conflict w/ the Const.
1.      Supremacy Clause (Article 6, §2)
                                           ii.      Judicial power to review– SC has power to interpret the Const.
1.      Separation of Powers (main argument)
a.       It’s the province/duty of judiciary to say what the law is.
                                         iii.      Art. 3, §2
1.      Gives judiciary jurisdiction over cases “arising under” the Const.
2.      Original Jx = hearing a case as matter of 1st instance
3.      Appellate Jx = hearing a case being appealed
4.      Being able to hear the case, but not resolve the conflict b/t the Const. and the statute would make no sense, so this article gives rise to judicial review.
 
                                         iv.      Judicial oath to uphold Const.
1.      Not declaring conflicting law unconst. would violate oath of office.
2.      Not a good argument b/c all public officials take oaths.
 
5.      Constitutional Interpretation – 4 Setups
a.       Legislative Supremacy
                                             i.      Congress has final authority to determine meaning of Const.
                                           ii.      Supported by few, rejected in Marbury.
b.      Executive Supremacy
                                             i.      No support
c.       Judicial Supremacy
                                             i.      SC is supreme in its explanation of the Const.
                                           ii.      Very close to what we have today.
                                         iii.      Counterarguments (under departmentalism view)
1.      Separation of powers – all branches meant to be equal.
2.      Settlement Thesis (from McCulloch – only judicial branch can settle peacefully/quickly – judicial supremacy limits hostility b/t other branches) – bad b/c settlement at the expense of other 2 branches is judicial tyranny; discussion/debate are good.
3.      Article III means judicial review, not supreme judicial review.
4.      If founders meant court to have such tremendous power, they would’ve written it down.
5.      Const. limits the SC and it should respect those limits.
d.      Departmentalism (Coordinate Review) – all 3 branches equally share power.
                                             i.      Marbury is consistent w/ judicial supremacy and departmentalism.
                                           ii.      Departmentalism doesn’t eliminate judicial review, just makes it only appropriate in its own sphere.
e.       Methods of Const. Interpretation
                                             i.      Text, original understanding, judicial precedent, policy/philosophical arguments, structural logic, social consensus, tradition.
f.        Hamilton in Federalist 78
                                             i.      SC and Congress are on the same level, but the Const. trumps statutes, so if there is a conflict, the ct. may invalidate the statute b/c the Const. was created by the people and Congress was elected by the people.
                                           ii.      Congress has will – power to create law. SC has judgment – power to interpret and apply law. SC may only exercise its judicial power.
 
JUDICIAL POWER: National Judicial Supremacy (federal cts. v. state cts.) – Interpretation of the Const. rests solely w/ SC.
 
1.      McCulloch v. Maryland
a.       Even though the Const. doesn’t expressly grant Congress the power to incorporate a bank, it can do so under the doctrine of implied powers.
b.      Necessary and Proper Clause explicitly states the notion of implied powers.
 
c.       Doctrine of Implied Powers
              

ude text, precedents, popular values, policy, recent legal traditions, and natural law.
c.       Justice – moral conception of justice, individual rights.
d.      Exercise substantial amount of political discretion in determining the meaning of constitutional provisions.
                                             i.      Motivational force behind judicial activists – concerned w/ gov’t violations of individual rights and distrust of ordinary politics as a means of protecting those rights.
 
3.      Judicial Restraint (Justice Iredell) (conservatives)
a.       Strict constructionists who do less and seek precedents; more rigid.
b.      Sources include text, precedents, original understandings/intent, and legal traditions.
c.       Emphasis on stability, constitutional structures that limit courts, law.
d.      Minimize their political discretion.
                                             i.      Concerned w/ judicial actions in tension w/ constitutional values.
                                           ii.      Distrust of the judiciary as a legitimate and competent institution for resolving important political decisions – should be left to political process, where policy makers have greater accountability.
 
JUDICIAL POWER: Historical v. Living Constitution
 
1.      This contrast is a sliding scale.
 
2.      Living Constitution (liberals)
a.       Emphasize evolving legal traditions, policy judgments, consensus values, and probably precedent.
b.      Connected w/ judicial activism.
                                                i.      Judges might need the flexibility to adapt b/c the amendment process is very complicated.
                                              ii.      Perhaps the separation of powers was meant to allow for the judicial role of being able to flexibly interpret the Const.
c.       Pros
                                                i.      Maybe founders intended for it to be a living Const.
                                              ii.      Reflects current practice.
                                            iii.      Has been used to expand our rights.
                                            iv.      Allows us to adapt.
d.      Cons
                                                i.      Too much political input.
                                              ii.      Const. doesn’t constrain properly.
 
3.      Historical Constitution (conservatives)
a.       Emphasizes text, original understanding, and precedent.
b.      Connected w/ judicial restraint.
c.       Respects political process; pro-democracy.
d.      Helps to protect minorities that might not be sufficiently represented in the political process.
e.       Separation of powers – let legislature make the laws.
f.        Pros
                                                i.      Stable, predictable.
                                              ii.      Relies on legal material, not political whims.
                                            iii.      The Const. restrains.
                                            iv.      Possible horrible things could be upheld under a living const. that wouldn’t be upheld under this const.