Select Page

Constitutional Law I
University of North Carolina School of Law
Boger, John Charles

Conlaw Study Guide
Marbury v. Madison- gives the Supreme Court the power to declare congressional statutes unconstitutional.
Relies on:
The nature of constitutionalism in which the judiciary has an obligation to protect the constitution over the will of the legislature.
The duty if the courts to say what the law is
Supremacy Clause
Supreme Court review over state judicial decisions.
According to the supremacy clause the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, in order for the Constitution to serve as a final authority, the Supreme Court must be able to review state judicial decisions, and strike down state laws that are repugnant to the constitution.  In Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, the Va. Supreme Court says that the extension of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction granted by sec. 25 of the judiciary act was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court says that nothing in the constitution limits the appellate power of the S. Court to any particular court, but the constitution does impose limits on the states, for example art. 1 sec. 10 contains a list of prohibitions on the states. Court also points out that the state court judges take an oath to uphold the U.S. const, including the supremacy clause. Court also points out the necessity of the constitution to have a universal interpretation throughout the states, and that the S. Ct. must act as a revising authority to ensure uniformity. In Cohens v. Virginia, the S. Ct. says that they have the final authority to decide whether a state law is constitutional, and hold that they could exercise jurisdiction over decisions of the state courts in criminal cases and in cases which the state was a party. In Cooper v. Aaron, the S.Ct says that the decision in Marbury declared the basic principle that federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the constitution.
Implied Powers and Implied Rights.
Marshall (in McCulloch): If the end is legitimate and w/ in the scope of the constitution, and the means are appropriate, plainly adapted to the end, are not prohibited, and are consistent w/ the letter and the spirit of the constitution, then it is constitutional.
In McCulloch v. Maryland Court says that Congress had the power to establish a federal bank under their implied powers in the constitution. Since Congress had the power of the purse and the sword, they must also have the power to establish a bank under the necessary and proper clause. J. Marshall points out that the word necessary is not so restrictive as to confine the means of carrying out the laws, to those which the carrying out of the laws would be impossible without. Marshall also points out that the necessary and proper clause is listed among the powers of Congress, not the restrictions. The court also says that Maryland cannot tax the federal bank holding that the states have no power by taxation or otherwise to retard impede or burden the operations of constitutional laws enacted by Congress. In Calder v. Bull, J. Chase looks to the declaration of independence’s “self evident truths” and “inalienable rights” to find that the legislature cannot pass laws that are contrary to implied rights and principles of a social contract. On the other hand Justice Iredell, says that the notions of natural law are not fixed, and that, the court cannot declare void a law contrary to natural justice if it is within the scope of the constitution.
Checks on the Judicial Branch
A. Congress’s power to restrict jurisdiction- Constitution gives Congress the power to make exceptions to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction under Art. II, Sec.II, Cl. II.
For constitutional purposes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is set out in art. III, but congress has never granted litigants access to the court in all cases for which article III provides authorization.
Arguments for and against plenary power of the congress to restrict jurisdiction:
For: The const. text contains no limits on the power to make exceptions; giving Congress this power keeps the court from straying too far from public opinion.
Against: Allowing plenary power would allow congress to destroy the essential role of the S.Ct. in the const. plan; the term “exceptions” implies that Congress’s power in narrow, and the the S. Ct. should exercise jurisdiction in most or all federal question cases.
Case Study of Congress’s Power to Restrict Jurisdiction
1.)    Ex Parte McCardle
a.       Court says that do not have jurisdiction to hear a case where Congress enacted a statute that repealed the provision of the 1867 Habeas Corpus statute which granted them jurisdiction in the case that was pending.
b.      Court acknowledges Congress power under art. II sec. II cl. II of the constitution, which allows them to make exceptions to the court’s appellate jurisdiction.
2.)    Ex Parte Yerger
a.       The court asserts appellate jurisdiction over a habeas corpus proceeding brought by a petitioner in military detention.
b.      Court says that their jurisdiction is based on pre-1867 legislation.
c.       Implies that holding in McCardle should be read more narrowly, and that there are alternative means to obtaining S. Ct. review.
3.)     U.S. v. Klein
a.       Klein sued for indemnification of property taken during the civil war.
b.      In order for Klein to get relief from the court

an establishment of religion.
2.      Court says that it cannot be sure that the reason schools in the area aren’t segregated is b/c of the actions of the IRS.
b.      Lyons
c.       Jacksonville affirmative action case
d.      Unwed mother case
                                                                          i.      Unwed mother sues D.A. b/c they don’t apply the law of tracking down dead beat dads for child support to her, and court says no standing b/c:
1.      Even if the D.A. applied the law, there is no certainty that she would get the money.
e.       Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife
                                                                          i.      Court says that ∏ trying to get an injunction to stop the Sec. of State from enforcing a regulation which would limit the scope of the Endangered Species Act to the U.S. does not have standing b/c
1.      If the ∏ him self is the object of the action or the inaction, there is ordinarily no question that the action caused him injury, and that a judgment favorable to the ∏ will redress it, but when the ∏ asserts that injury arises from unlawful (or lack of ) government regulation, standing is substantially more difficult to establish.
2.      some-day intentions of members to visit endangered species in a foreign nation is not a actual or imminent injury.
3.      “ecosystem nexus,” “animal nexus”, and “vocational nexus” arguments also fail the actual or imminent injury requirement.
4.      ∏’s have produces not evidence that projects they have named will either be eliminated for do less harm to listed specied, if their relief is granted (redressibilty problem)
4.)    Case Study on Prudential Standing requirements
a.      Newdow
                                                                          i.      Court denies standing to a father who brings a suit on behalf of his daughter claiming that the teacher led recitation of the pledge violated the 1st amendment, b/c
Court recognizes the father’s cognizable right to influence his daughter’s upbringing, but since the Cali court has deprived the father of “next of friend” status