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Constitutional Law I
Villanova University School of Law
Brennan, Patrick McKinley

Constitutional Law I Final Outline
Patrick Brennan
Spring 2017
Introduction to the Constitution of the United States
Formation and Purposes
Five decisions of the Framers at the Constitutional Convention
Expansion of national power
The Great Compromise (Senate & House)
Separation of Executive and Judicial
Slavery Compromise (3/5th clause)
Amendments only made by 2/3rd both houses, 3/4th states ratifying
Sovereignty rests with the people
Federalist 1
People have a right to liberty – Englishmen possess a set of inalienable rights
Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Broad Themes of the Constitution (35)
Written Document
Republicanism and Popular Sovereignty
                        – Representative, republican government. People are sovereign.
Separation of Powers
                        – Independent, co-equal branches of government with power to check each other
                        – Division of government power between central government and states’
Individual Rights
                        – Protects certain fundamental liberties against government interference
Imperfect Congruence of the Constitution with Justice (framework from which different political choices may be made) It doesn’t forbid all bad things and doesn’t require all good things. There are many issues in which the Constitution permits a wide diversity of answers- it only offers a framework in which different political choices can be made.
Modes of Interpretation
Decision based on the actual text, words of written law
Meaning the words would have had, in context, to speakers and readers of the English language at the time the document was drafted
                                    – Conservative mode of interpretation
– This can be the same as Originalism, which looks as the text first, but when there’s ambiguity, originalists consult the historical purpose of that part of the constitution to determine how to interpret it.
Decision based on how the document is intended to function as a coherent, harmonious system—based on the structure or internal logic of the document
Draw inferences from the relationship of provisions to each other, their locations within the Constitution, and the structures of government necessarily framed by the text as a whole.
Historical Purpose
Decision based on the intentions of the text according to legislative history or statements made by the drafters or ratifiers  
Look at a provision’s historical background, emphasizing not the particular words of the text but the intentions underlying them- these arguments rely on statements made by the drafters and ratifiers.
Precedent and Practice
Decisions based on previous interpretations, once a provision is construed in a certain way, is it fixed?
Look at previous interpretations, whether by the judiciary or by other branches of government, that have become sufficiently settled to fix or liquidate the meaning of an ambiguous provision.
Decisions based on the possible consequences of the interpretation
Look at consequences and ask which interpretation produces the best results according to a specific notion of what is best.
                                    – Ex. Ask which interpretation would maximize egalitarian justice, individual                                             autonomy, or economic efficiency
                                                – Liberal mode of interpretation
                                                – Functionalism is a form of policy interpretation
Powers of Branches
Textual commitment of the Constitution to the separation of powers: see vesting clauses
Checks & Balances
Legislative: power of the purse, declare war, nominee confirmations, oversight hearings, altering

pursuant to express or implied powers specifically given by Congress- if granted this specific power or implementing an Act. The President’s power is at its maximum
ii. When the President acts in absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority, he can only rely upon his own independent powers, but there is a zone of twilight in which he and congress may have concurrent authority, or in which its distribution is uncertain. – president is acting in absence of congress
iii. When the President is acting against what Congress has authorized expressly or impliedly. This is where his power is at its lowest ebb. Congress may not disable President from fulfilling his constitutional duty. (Youngstown fits in here) The president cannot act against the law.
Frankfurter: looks to the past – this example was different
            – black disagreed and did not think history would help in this situation
            – still more of a functionalist approach
            – braoders gloss of the text – exec can execute his own will
            – compared to vinson who also had a functionalist argument
Powers intermingle with checks and balances – if Truman could do it without an approval – could congress disable him from doing it?
Statutes at issue:
Taft-Hartley Act 1947
Selective Service Act 1948
Defense Production Act 1950
PROCEDURE: District Court found against government, issued an injunction
                        Appeals stayed the injunction the same day
                        Supreme Court finds against government