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Constitutional Law I
University of Toledo School of Law
Zietlow, Rebecca E.

onstitutional Law I

Ch. 1 – Role of the Supreme Court

Power of federal government is limited and comes from the states
i.      What the states didn’t give away, they still have
Legislative Branch (Article I)
i.      §7 – lawmaking process
ii.      §8 – enumerates the areas of congressional power (the areas in which congress can make laws)
iii.      Makes laws
iv.      Approve judges
v.      Declare war
vi.      Power of the purse
1.      tax and spend
vii.      535 people
Executive Branch (Article II)
i.      President can veto laws
ii.      President executes the laws
1.      power to make treaties (but treaties are ratified by congress)
2.      Commander in chief (but can’t declare war without approval of congress)
3.      Receive ambassadors
4.      Appoint judges
Judicial Branch (Article III)
i.      §2 – defines the power of the courts (SMJ)
ii.      Interprets the law
iii.      Only the Supreme Court is required by constitution (Congress has power to establish lower courts, but doesn’t have to)
Checks and Balances:
i.      Control of Legislative over Executive (of congress over president)
1.      Congress can decline to exercise the power asked of them by the president
2.      Congress can approve or disapprove appointments of judges
3.      Congress can impeach a president
ii.      Control of Legislative over Judicial
1.      Congress must grant jurisdiction in the positive (Art. III)
a.       Congress can also take jurisdiction away, even during ongoing case (ex: McCardle)
2.      Exceptions to Congress’ power to control jurisdiction
a.       Congress cannot interfere with ongoing jurisdiction to alter the substantive outcome of a case (Klein)
b.      Congress can’t exercise judicial power
c.       Other limits in constitution?
3.      Supreme Court – jurisdiction “stripping”
a.       Congress can’t remove original jurisdiction given by Article III
b.      Practical problems
i.      Freeze Supreme Ct. precedent
ii.      Lack of uniformity in lower court decisions
4.      Lower federal courts – jurisdiction “stripping”
a.       Even fewer theoretical limits
b.      Power to create may mean power to destroy
c.       If abolished, state courts could still hear cases
5.      Examples of Congress’ power over the courts:
a.       Approve or disapprove appointments
b.      Congress can amend the constitution (if they don’t like what the court is doing)
c.       Congress controls jurisdiction of the judicial branch
d.      Congress can impeach judges
iii.      Control of Executive over Judiciary
1.      Power to appoint, subject to Senate confirmation
2.      Enforcement
iv.      Control of Executive over Legislative
1.      President can veto laws he doesn’t like
2.      President has the power of appointment over judicial branch
v.      Control of Judicial over other 2 branches
1.      Judicial review of acts of congress and president
a.       This power is not in the Constitution and does not exist until Marbury v. Madison
b.      No immunity for any office – all subject to mandamus or injunction
c.       But court won’t order acts within political discretion
Marbury v. Madison
i.      Established Judicial Review – ability to declare conflict with Constitution
ii.      Power over executive
iii.      Can the Supreme Court issue a writ of mandamus, compelling President Jefferson to deliver a commission for judgeship to Marbury? (NO)
iv.      Judge Marshall says issuing the writ would conflict with the constitution and does not issue it (the list in the Constitution of things of original jurisdiction is a ceiling)
Arguments for judicial review
i.      Nature of judicial function
1.      judicial function = to interpret laws
2.      Congressional function = not to interpret laws, but to make them; to not limit its own power
3.      Court is best suited to maintain the limits because it’s not subject to political pressure (as Congress is)
ii.      Language of Constitution
1.      Article III gives jurisdiction to cases “arising under” the constitution
2.      Judges swear an oath to the constitution
3.      Supremacy Clause – Constitution is the law of the land and should be consulted first
4.      Constitution establishes limits on Congress (art. I, §9)
iii.      Structural Principles
1.      Court is insulated from political pressure
2.      Link between judges and constitution in the language
3.      If courts don’t have judicial review, the judicial branch has no power over anyone else so there is no balance of power between the 3 branches
Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
i.      Upheld the constitutionality of section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 which empowered the Supreme Court to review certain decisions of the highest state court which ruled adversely to some federal right or claim
ii.      The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over constitutional decisions made by the highest state courts

i.      Art. III, §2 – The judicial power shall extend to enumerated cases and controversies
1.      The courts can’t invalidate legislative or executive action just because it is unconstitutional
2.      They have to invalidate it in the context of a constitutional case
ii.      Separation of Powers Principles
i.      Reduces friction produced by judicial review (it limits occasions for judicial intervention into the other 2 branches)
ii.      Constitutional issues will be decided in the context of real disputes rather than abstract or speculative problems
iii.      To discourage individual autonomy or self interests by making sure that decisions are rendered for people actually injured
No advisory opinions
i.      Actual controversy between adversarial parties
ii.      Substantial likelihood that court involvement will effect change
i.      Constitutional requirements (Article III)
1.      Actual injury (concrete and personal)
2.      Causation (“fairly traceable” to conduct of defendant
3.      Redressability (court ruling likely to redress injury)
ii.      Prudential Requirements (Not prohibited from hearing cases, but they should not hear them – Congress can alter)
1.      No third party standing
2.      No generalized grievances (harm has to be concrete; mostly applies to claims of “taxpayer” standing)
a.       Example: (only happened once) when a taxpayer sued to challenge congressional spending as violating the establishment clause of 1st amend.
3.      Zone of interest (You have to be the type of person the statute was supposed to protect)
a.       Only applies to statutory claims
Ripeness and Mootness
i.      Ripeness – case filed to early
ii.      Mootness – case filed too late
1.      Exception – when a problem is capable of repetition yet evading review (ex: Abortion situation)
Political Question
i.      Baker v. Carr
ii.      Bush v. Gore