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Constitutional Law I
University of North Carolina School of Law
Nichol, Gene R.

 
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW NICHOL SPRING 2015
 
CONSTUTIONAL LAW: GENERAL CONCEPTS
 
Standards of Review:
            Rational Basis Test: requires rational relation between the means chosen and the achievement of 
a legitimate governmental objective 

            Intermediate Scrutiny: require a substantial relationship between the means chosen and the achievement of an important governmental objective 

             
            Strict Scrutiny: requires a narrowly tailored scheme to accomplish the achievement of a compelling governmental objective
 
types of arguments:
 
            Textual: inferences about words, placement of words, and meanings 

             
            Original Meaning: words meaning as the founders or majority believed them at the time of 
enactment 
(Framers intent)
             
            History: what is the history of regulation? How have people understood over time? 

 
            Precedent: the relevance is limited, but powerful- when may the court overturn itself? 

 
            Structure of the const.: things that can be inferred from structure of words or documents (federalism, 
separation of powers, checks and balances) 

 
            Consequences: using practical reasoning, what would happen if this path was followed 

 
Federal Judicial Power
Art. III Of the Constitution
 
I.                   Review of Congressional/Executive Acts: Not in constitution
A.    Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the doctrine of judicial review: can strike down laws as unconstitutional
1.      Supreme Court is the ultimate and final interpreter of the Constitution. “It is emphatically the province of the Court to say what the law is.”
2.      The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and Justices (as well as other judges) are bound to protect the supremacy. Any statute against it is null and void.
3.      In Cooper v. Aaron (1958), state officials in Arkansas refused to enforce federal desegregation orders. SCTOUS ruled state officials may not disobey federal court orders.
I.                   Review of State Laws/criminal laws
A.    Article VI establishes that “Constitution… shall be supreme law of the land, and Judges in every State shall be bound…”
B.     The Supreme Court’s power to assess the constitutionality of state laws logically extends from its role as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution.
1.      Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)- SCOTUS’ appellate jurisdiction extends to state court judgments that involve federal law)
C.     SCOTUS can review criminal law matters when claimed that conviction violated the Constitution (Cohens v. Virginia (1821))
D.    Essential to development of uniform constitutional principles and ensures unbiased justice.
II.                Original/Appellate Jurisdiction of federal courts
A.    Article III, § 1 established Federal Court System
1.      Judicial Power “Shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the congress may from time to time ordain and establish”
B.     Original Jurisdiction, Article III
1.      Ambassadors, public ministers, and where the state is a party.
C.     Article III, § 2= Exceptions and Regulations clause
1.      SCOTUS has “appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and face, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”
2.      Congress may pass and rescind a statute altering the scope of SCOTUS’ appellate jurisdiction.
i.                    Ex Parte McCardle (1869): Congress repealed an act under which D applied for a writ of habeas corpus before the case reached the Court,
3.      Congress may not use the Exceptions and Regulations Clause to cripple the Court’s ability to be the final arbiter of what the Constitution means or invade Presidential Powers (United States v. Klein (1871))
III.             Advisory Opinions
A.    Court will NOT issue advisory opinions. Need actual dispute between adverse litigants
B.     EX: Jefferson is Secretary of State. Conflict between France and England and US is neutral. Jefferson, on behalf of President Washington, asked a number of questions to the Justices regarding their legal obligations. In his lettering answering to President Washington, Justices say separation of powers makes it executive, and it is their job to decide cases
IV.             Final Judgment by SCOTUS
A.    Notion of judicial decisions to be reviewed and possibly changed in another branch of government is in violation of separation of powers (Hayburn’s Case)
B.     When a case has a final judgment, it cannot be dislodged/reopened by Congress of the Executive Branch (Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc.)
 
ART. III’s “CASE OR CONTROVERSY” REQUIREMENT
 
V.                Standing (concerned w/ who is a proper party to litigate a matter)
A.    The determination of whether a specific person is the proper party to bring a matter to the court for adjudication
B.     All decisions about standing initially are made on the basis of the pleadings, assuming all allegations to be true.
C.     Constitutional Requirements
1.      Injury (key to ensuring that there is an actual dispute between adverse litigants)
i.                    P must allege that he has suffered or will imminently suffer an injury
a.       Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife- Endangered Species Act changed to only apply to US and on seas. P claim injury is increased rate of extinction of endangered and threatened species b/c of certain funded activities.
·         Court: No imminent harm- allegation contain no facts that injury is imminent (would need plane ticket showing plans to go or the injury is “someday”)
b.      A Plaintiff seeking injunctive or declaratory relief must show a likelihood of future harm.
·         City of

udicate it if it is unnecessary, and holders of rights may have a preference (autonomy of rightholder)
iii.                EXCEPTIONS:
a.       the close relationship of the litigant to the persons right he seeks to assert
b.      inability of 3rd person to assert own right
·         Close relationship between doctor/patient counts (Singleton v. Wulff- Dr. sued for refusal to fund nonmedical abortions through Medicaid. Injury: not reimbursed. Also, privacy of women w/ respect to abortions, and mootness)
o   Craig v. Boren- vendor assert right of customer
·         Barrows v. Jackson: Restrictive covenant did not allow blacks in the community. Court allowed TPS and permitted P, who was sued for breaching and renting to a black man, to assert the rights of blacks in the community. Blacks were not parties to the covenant and had no legal basis for participating in the breach of K lawsuit.
2.      No generalized grievances
i.                    May not sue as taxpayer who shares a grievance in common with all taxpayer
ii.                  Prevents citizens form suing if their only injury as a citizen or taxpayer concerned with having the government follow the law
a.       If it means no one can sue, it’s okay—it means it is meant for the political process (US v. Richardson- no standing as a federal taxpayer challenging the lack of public reporting of CIA b/c he did not allege he is in danger or suffering any particular concrete injury)
b.      Ex Parte Levitt (challenged Justice Black’s appointment; Frothingham v. Mellon (sued as taxpayer challenging Federal Maternity Act of 1921 as going against 10th Amen.)
iii.                EXCEPTION: to challenge government expenditures as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (religion).
a.       TEST: (1) has to be appropriation of Congress (challenge a spending program)
(2) exceeds specific Const. limit upon Congress’ spending powers (must  be a specific limit in Accounts Clause)
·         Flast v. Cohen- P claimed public money spent on religious school violated Establishment Clause & had standing as a taxpayer.
·         Granting Property is not an appropriation (Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State)
·         Incidental spending is not an appropriation (Frothingham v. Mellon)