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Constitutional Law I
Villanova University School of Law
Samahon, Tuan N.



Spring 2011


· Basics

o McCulloch v. Maryland (Marshall – 1819) (815)

§ Argument – National bank’s charter was invalid legislation and States have authority to tax national instrumentalities.

§ Holding – Act of incorporating the bank is Constitutional. States have no power, by tax or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden or in any manner control the operation of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government.

§ Issue 1 – Does Congress have the power to incorporate a bank?

· There is not an enumerated power to establish a bank/corporation in the Constitution, but the power to collect taxes, ect. are – so the important question is how far non-enumerated powers can extend

· Necessary and Proper Clause – Definition of Necessary

o Its terms purport to enlarge, not diminish the powers vested in the government


o The end is legitimate, within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist within the letter and the spirit of the Constitution

§ Issue 2 – Can Maryland, without violating the Constitution, tax the branch?

· No – the union was not designed by make their government dependant on the states

· Can’t impede operations of the federal government

o U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (Stevens – 1995) (826)

§ Issue – State imposed term limits on federal officials

§ Holding – The Framers intended that the Constitution be the exclusive source of qualifications for the members of Congress.

§ The power to add qualifications was not within the original powers of the pre-Constitution states

· Commerce Clause – Art. I, §8

o Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) (834)

§ Facts – Gibbons was licensed as “vessels in the coasting trade” by federal statute. Ogden had right to operate ferry between NYC and NJ. Gibbons enter NY water – Ogden got injunction in NY state court prohibiting Gibbons from operating in NY.

§ Holding – The commerce power is expansive enough to enact the federal statute.

§ Widely understood that commerce includes navigation and Art. I § 9 has a direct reference to navigation. The power to regulate navigation is expressly granted, as if the term has been added to the word commerce.

o NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937) (850) (C.J. Hughes)

§ Facts – Concerning the process of steel manufacturing – labor conditions, ect. – Court previously held manufacturing isn’t commerce

§ Holding – Application of the NLRA’s labor-management provisions to a national steel company were upheld.

§ The disruption of manufacturing operations would disrupt the stream of interstate commerce – the criteria is the effect on commerce not the source of injury – activities that are intrastate in character when separately considered, if they have such a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce that control is essential/appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens/obstructions, Congress has power to control

§ The power to regulate commerce is the power to prescribe the rule by which commerce is governed.

§ Dissent – It is a chain of indirect and progressively remote events

o U.S. v. Darby (1941) (851) (Stone)

§ Background – Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 regulated hours, wages, and other conditions of employment. Darby manufactured lumber in GA and shipped it to other states.

§ Issue 1 – Does Congress have the constitutional power to prohibit the shipment in interstate commerce of lumber that was manufactured by employees whose wages are less than a prescribed minimum or whose weekly hours of labor are greater than the prescribed maximum?

· Holding – It is within the constitutional authority of Congress.

· Rational Basis (deference to legislation/Congress) – whatever their motive and purpose regulations of commerce which don’t infringe on some constitutional prohibition are within the plenary power conferred to Congress by the Commerce Clause

§ Issue 2 – Whether Congress has the power to prohibit the employment of workmen in the production of good for interstate commerce at other than prescribed wages and hours?

· Holding – The acts are within the sweep of the statute

· The power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce extends to the regulation through legislative action of activities intrastate which have a substantial effect on the commerce or the exercise of the Congressional power over it. Congress may choose the means reasonably adapted to the attainment of the permitted end, even though they involve the control of intrastate activities.

o Wickard v. Filburn (1942) (854) (Jackson)

§ Facts – Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) imposed a quota on production of wheat. Filburn grew wheat to feed animals and for other purposes. He exceeded the quota

§ Holding – Upheld the AAA under the aggregation theory – one person’s contribution to the demand for wheat may be trivial by itself is not enough to remove him from the scope of federal regulation where, his contribution, taken together with that of many others similarly situated, is far from trivial

§ Highly deferential to Congress.

o Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964) (856) (Clark)

§ Background – Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited specified public accommodations (such as motels and restaurants) from discriminating on the basis of race. The HOA motel was a motel near major state and national highways that refused to accommodate AA’s.

§ Holding – The act of Congress in the adoption of the Act applied here to a motel which serves interstate travelers is within the power granted it by the CC of the Constitution

§ Congressional findings replete with evidence of the burdens that discrimination by race or color places upon interstate commerce

§ TEST – Whether the activity sought to be regulated is “commerce which concerns more States than one” and has a real and substantial relation to the national interest.

· The movement of persons through more States than one was settled as early as 1849 – it doesn’t matter whether the transportation is commercial in character

o Katzenbach v. McClung – Ollie’s BBQ (1964) (858) (Clark)

§ Background – Ollie’s BBQ was located on a state highway and 11 blocks from an interstate. 2/3 of their employees were AA’s, but they refused to serve AA’s.

§ Holding – Title II constitutionally applied to Ollie’s BBQ –

· No slavery prohibition against private and state conduct

-equal protection clause

-due process clause

-privileges or immunities clause

§ 2, 3, 4

(extends to state action)

§ 1 – right to vote (extends to state action)

Enforcement Provisions

§ 2 – congress has the power

§ 5

§ 2

o The Civil Rights Cases (1883) (876) (Bradley)

§ Holding – Court can’t enforce because substantive guarantees are only for state action – there needs to be a government actor somewhere – Held that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional

§ Congress lacks the constitutional authority under the enforcement provisions of the 14th Amendment to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals and organizations

§ The Federal government can provide remedies for State action that violates the 14th amendment

§ Dissent (Harlan) – It is a misconception to suppose that the 5th section of the amendment has reference exclusively to express prohibitions upon State laws or State action.

o South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966) (888) (C.J. Warren)

§ Facts – The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was enacted to ensure the right to vote was recognized – It had two strategies for jurisdictions having low minority voting rates; (1) outlawed or suspended tests and devises as prerequisites for voting, and (2) no change in voting qualifications or procedures could be implemented without prior determination of either the AG or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the change didn’t have any purpose and would not have the effect of causing retrogression in minority voting strength.

· In Lassiter the court held that literacy tests/related devices aren’t in themselves a violation of the 15th amendment, but the application might be

§ Holding – Court upheld the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Upheld the dual strategy of suspending “test and devices” for five years and using federal preclearance to prevent erosion of the minority vote

§ Court relied on the McCulloch test for congressional power – the statute’s remedies were an appropriate response to the demonstrated ineffectiveness of case-by-case adjudication.

§ The Act could constitutionally apply only to certain regions of the country in light of the “local evils” found there.

§ Congress knew continuing the tests and devices in use at present would freeze the effect of past discrimination in favor of unqualified whites.