Select Page

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

Constitutional Law
 
I.                    The Federal Judicial Power
a.       Power of the federal judiciary – US Supreme Court has the power to decide questions of constitutional law based on the idea and premise of Judicial Review
                                                               i.      Includes the power to review the actions of other branches of government
                                                             ii.      Includes the power to declare laws unconstitutional
b.       Limits on the Federal Judicial Power – federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction
                                                               i.      Article III describes the maximum extent of federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction
1.       Also limited access to federal courts – standing, ripeness, mooteness, political question doctrine (justiciability doctrines)
                                                             ii.      Congress plays a role in limiting federal court jurisdiction – federal court may hear a matter only when there is both constitutional and statutory authorization
                                                           iii.      Executive branch can still exercise influence over judicial review
1.       Amendment to the Constitution
2.       Appoint judicial judge
3.       Statutorily limit SC jurisdiction
c.       Source of Power – constitutional convention, federalist papers, and ratification convention
                                                               i.      Marbury v. Madison – established the authority for judiciary to review the constitutionality of executive and legislative acts (Constitution is silent as to whether federal courts have this authority, the power existed ever since Marbury)
1.       Established the power of the judiciary to review executive actions for constitutionality
2.       Established judicial review (gets a final say in what the law is) by SC over Congress laws and executive actions
3.       Established principle that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction (and Congress can’t expand this outside the scope of Article III)
4.       Decision separated political questions which government has full discretion over from legal questions which government has no discretion over
5.       Constitution is the supreme law of the land
6.       Murbury is only triggered if there is a case (injury + remedy)
a.       Decision was based on a premise that judges are required to decide cases, which requires looking at the Constitution – requirement of injury that requires a remedy
d.       Authority for Judicial Review of State and Local Actions
                                                               i.      Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee – federal court can review state laws and state laws that implicate federal law
1.       Overturned state’s decision that favored itself and ruled that the federal treaty controlled (in regards to confiscated land)
2.       Constitution presumed the power to review state court decisions
3.       SC review is essential to ensure uniformity in the interpretation of federal law (mitigate state quarrels and biases)
                                                             ii.      Cohens v. Virginia – gave Supreme Court authority to review state court criminal cases
                                                           iii.      Reasons for authority: This type of authority is important because:
1.       Ensures uniformity of interpretation of federal law across the US
2.       There is finality which eliminates confusion and provides a final question of law
3.       It eliminates state court hostility that might arise between states
4.       Justices can make decisions without fear of political retaliation
                                                           iv.      Michigan v. Long – Issues of state law in the supreme court – does SC have jurisdiction over state court decisions that rested on “adequate and independent” state grounds?
1.       Long was convicted for possession of MJ found during a police search, claimed evidence is void bc search violated 14th amendment and the state’s constitution
2.       When the state court’s decisions appeared to rest primarily on federal law, SC would infer jurisdiction
3.       State courts should expressly state that independent grounds (state law) were being used
e.       Limits on Federal Judicial Power
                                                               i.      Congressional limits
1.       Ex Parte McCardle: exceptions and regulations clause
a.        Exceptions and regulations clause – “Article III: Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the congress shall make” (establishing and limiting the US judicial power)
b.       Fact: McCardle (newspaper editor) who published incendiary articles about the US was put in prison and filed petition for writ of habeaus corpus (challenging confinement) but Reconstruction Act was repealed while case was at bar (repealing the appellate jurisdiction)
c.       Held that the grant of jurisdiction that was given by Congress could be removed by Congress – sustained Congressional power to withdraw jurisdiction to proceed with a case at bar
2.       US v. Klein: separation of powers as a limit on Congress’s authority
a.       Fact: President gave a pardon that said that people whose property was confiscated during the Civil War could get their property back by performing an oath of allegiance. But Congress passed a law saying that the pardon was impermissible
b.       Held: Congress’s statute is unconstitutional bc it violated separation of powers and invaded judicial function. This ruling:
                                                                                                                                       i.      Recognizes and supports the fundamental value of separation of powers defined by the Constitution
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Means that Congress may not direct the outcome of a case by prescribing the rule of decision, nor may Congress impair the power and effect of a Presidential pardon
                                                                                                                                   iii.      Suggests, but does not state, that Congress may not use the Exceptions Clause to cripple the Court’s ability to be the final arbiter of what the Constitution means
c.       Congress cannot limit the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in a manner that violates other constitutional provisions
                                                             ii.      Judiciabiltiy Doctrine: determine which matters federal courts can hear and decide and which must be dismissed (none of the limits are express in the Constitution)
1.       Sources of limitations:
a.       Constitution: “cases” and “controversies” – defined by Article III
b.       Prudential Requirements: where the Court has Constitutional power to hear the case, but the Court has decided that wise policy calls against judicial review
c.       Note: Congress may override prudential but not constitutional restrictions
2.       Reasons for justiciability doctrines:
a.       Tied to separation of powers – define the judicial role and determine when it’s necessary to defer to the other branches
b.       Conserves judicial resources – focus on matters most deserving review
                                                                                                                                       i.      Mootness – conserve resource by dismissing cases where there no longer is a live controversy
c.       Improve judicial decision-making – provide cases with concrete controv

                                                                                                                     i.      Injuries to Common Law Rights
1.       Injury to rights recognized at CL – property, contracts, and torts
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Injuries to Constitutional Rights
1.       Decide which constitutional provisions bestow rights
2.       Whether the facts are sufficient to establish such an injury
                                                                                                                                   iii.      Injuries to Statutory Rights
1.       So long as Ps meet Article III’s injury requirement, and infringement of a statutory right is sufficient in this regard, there is standing
2.       Two Step Inquiry (Lujuan)
a.       Show that you are within the terms of the statute (show you have standing)
b.       The grant of the standing (injury) provided by the statute has to be consistent with the statute
                                                                                                                                   iv.      Other injuries – i.e. aesthetic or economic
d.       Causation and Redressability
                                                                                                                                       i.      In addition to injury, plaintiff also must allege and prove that the personal injury was caused by the defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be remedied by a favorable court decision (causation + redressability)
1.       Warth – no standing because lacked causation and redressability; could not show housing would be constructed without zoning ordinance and could afford it even if they were built
5.       Prudential Requirements:
a.       Limitation on Third-Party Standing: plaintiff can assert only injuries that he or she has suffered
                                                                                                                                       i.      Exception: where the third party is unlikely to be able to sue – if there are substantial obstacle to the third party asserting their own rights and if there is reason to believe that the advocate will effectively represent the interest of the third party
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Exception: close relationship between plaintiff and third party
                                                                                                                                   iii.      Exception: the overbreath doctrine – challenging a statute on the ground that it is overly broad in violation of the First Amendment
                                                                                                                                   iv.      Exception: standing for associations – organization can sue based on injuries to itself or based on injuries to its members
Prohibition Against Generalized