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

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW OUTLINE:
 
INTRODUCTION:
 
A. THE THREE STANDARDS OF REVIEW:
There are three key standards of review that appear constantly in Con Law
1) RATIONAL BASIS TEST
This is the easiest one to satisfy. The court will uphold if you meet TWO:
1) LEGITIMATE STATE OBJECTIVE
This is a very broad concept, any type of health, safety or general welfare goal will be found to be legitimate
2) RATIONALLY RELATED
There has to be a minimally rational relation between the means chosen by the govt and the state objective
Only not found if the govt has acted in a completely arbitrary and irrational way will this reational like between means and ends not be found.
2) INTERMEDIATE SCRUTINY:
In between the higherst and lowest level of review
A) IMPORTANT OBJECTIVE
Must be more than legitimate, less than compelling
B) SUBSTANTIALLY RELATED MEANS
The means chosen by the govt must be substantially related to the important govt objective (halfway between rationally related and necessary)
3) STRICT SCRUTINY
The standard is hardest to satisfy, almost impossible
1) COMPELLING OBJECTIVE
2) NECESSARY MEANS
The means chosen by the govt must be necessary to achieve that compelling end
A) NO LESS RESTRICTIVE ALTERNATIVE
In practice this requirement that the means be necessary means and that there must not be any less restrictive means that would accomplish the govts objctive just as well
 
B. CONSEQUENCE OF CHOICE
The courts choice of one of these standards of review has two important consequences:
1) BURDEN OF PERSUASION
First, the choice will make a big difference about who has this.
A) Rational basis
The individual attacking the govt action will generally have the burden of showing the action unconstitutional
B) Intermediate
Not always clear, usually on the govt.
C) Strict Scrutiny
The govt body whose act is being attack has the burden of persuading the court that its action is unconstitional
2) EFFECT ON OUTCOME:
Intermediate is the only one wth a 50/50 chance, the others come down in favor of the burden.
Exam tip: Once you figure out which standard will apply, predict the outcome
 
C. WHEN USED:
Here is where you will most likely find each of these standards to be applied:
1) RATIONAL BASIS
A) DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE
The state’s regulation has to ursue a legitimate state end, and be relationally related to that end.
But the states interest in enforcing its regulation must also outweigh any burden imposed on interstate commerce, and any discrimination against interstate commerce
B) SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS:
Rational Basis scrutiny is used so long as NO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT is affected.
Most economic regulation will be uphild by this test
C) EQUAL PROTECTION:
Used so long as
1)

gulation unless denial of the exemption is necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest
 
I.                   REVIEW OF ACTS OF CONGREES – MARBURY V. MADISON
Court can only review a matter when it has both stautory and constitutional authorization
Several justices didn’t get seated in poltical move to stack the courts
Why is it important today: Establishes judicial review of the acts of Congress
How?
Says the then Judiciary act was unconstitutional because it expanded the Supreme Courts Original jurisdiction
I. CONSTITUTION IS PARAMOUNT
Any act by the legislature that goes against it is void
Congress cant add to SC’s original jurisdiction
Constitution is of the highest PEDIGREE
To say it is not at top is to make it meaningless
II. WHO INTERPRETS:
Judicial Branch says what the law is
To deny the courts this would be to say the court must close its eyes to the consittuion and just look at the law
This would go against the very foundation of all written constitutions.
CRITICISM:
If the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, what weight does the rest of the opinion hold