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Constitutional Law I
Villanova University School of Law
Lanctot, Catherine J.

I. Techniques of Constitutional Interpretation
 
     A. Textualism
           1) Basic Idea
                a) Constitution means what it says
b) Judges should proceed clearly explicit or implicit premises within the Constitution
           2) Criticism
                a) Some phases susceptible to multiple interpretations
                b) Inflexible
                c) Some provisions intended to be flexible
 
     B. Structure
           1) Basic Idea
a) Interpret phrases in context of whole structure of the Constit and gov
b) Look for meaning in the structure of government as created in the Constitution, i.e. separation of powers.
           2) Criticism
                a) Too narrow.
 
     C. Original Intent
           1) Basic Idea
                a) Look at original intent to determine what words mean
                b) Determine core values Framers trying to protect
c) Requires resort to historical materials (debates, Federalist papers)
           2) Advantages
                a) Limits discretion of judges
           3) Disadvantages
                a) Can result in application of outdated values
                b) Sometimes no historical record
                c) Some provisions intended to be flexible and open ended.
 
     D. Core Values
           1) Basic Idea
                a) Inherent Values
(i) Differs from original intent, these values were the core, natural law was behind the original intent
                b) Modern Values
(i) Judges bring their own or society’s values external to the Constitution in order to interpret it.
           2) Criticism
                a) Gives judges broad discretionary powers
                b) Creates day-to-day Constitutional convention
 
     E. Precedent
           1) Basic Idea
                a) Stare Decisis
           2) When precedent should be overturned
                a) Is the rule unworkable?
                b) Reliance interest?
                c) Old rule is no more than abandoned doctrine
                d) Underlying facts changed, out of date or insignificant
 
 
 
 
     F. Balancing
           1) Basic Idea
a) Weighing and balancing competing interests against each other
b) In balancing, judges should articulate neutral principles that can be applied in a variety of contexts.
           2) Criticism
a) Is it more appropriate for Court or legislature to do the balancing?
                b) No objective criteria for balancing
                c) No way to ensure all relevant information is considered
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
II. Judicial Review 
 
     A) Constitution
 
           1) Article III
                a) §1-establishes power of judiciary and Supreme Court
 
b) §2 (1)-Cases and Controversy, defines power to all Cases in Law and Equity
arising under this Constitution
 
      (2) Exceptions Clause-defines Original Jurisdiction and Appellate Juris
 
                c) §3-talks about treason
 
     B) Definition
-Court’s power to review the constitutionality of state and federal legislative and executive schemes.
 
     C) Judicial Review of Federal Legislation/Executive Actions
 
           1) Marbury v. Madison
 
-Supreme Court has final say to decide what is constitutional.
                +Basis
1) Constitution is paramount, very purpose of a written constitution is to establish a fundamental and paramount law.
2) It is the duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.
   -Some say Marshall reasoned that judicial independence makes for a better arbiter of what is constitutional
                +Criticism
                     -Nowhere in constitution does it say Court has that power
 
     D) Judicial Review of State Law
 
           1) Martin v. Hunter’s Lease
 
-Extends appellate power of Supreme Court to cases pending in the state courts.
Rationale
a)Judicial power extends to all cases see art III. Therefore, it is the case, not the court, that gives jurisdiction.
                b)Const. is supreme law of land see art VI.
-State must follow constitution and Supreme Court has authority to review.
c)State tried to argue that Constitu

Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such regulations as Congress shall make.
 
                d) Art IV §2
(1) This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, and thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
 
           2) Intent of Framers
a) To ensure checks and balances on different branches of government.
 
           3) Structure of Constitution
                a) Inherent in nature of Constitution
 
           4) Other Values
                a) Policy reasons (to prevent all powerful legislature)
 
 
 
 
 
 
III. THE POWERS OF CONGRESS
 
1) Defining and Analyzing the Commerce Power
 
     A) Commerce Clause Art I, §8(3)
1) “Congress shall have the Power to …regulate Commerce…among the several States”
 
           2) Commerce clause acts as:
                -Source of national authority
-Implicit restraint on power of states (dormant commerce clause)
 
           3) Analysis
                a) Is it commerce?
                     i) Commerce is intercourse
                    
                b) Is it interstate?
1) “Among” means that commerce power reaches into states (Gibbons)
a) Concerns that affect states generally are left to
Congress to control
b) Concerns that are wholly internal (no substantial effect on other states) are left to states control.
 
                     2) When Congress can regulate local activity
a) When rational basis for finding that local activity affects ISC (See Heart of Atlanta, Katzenbach)
     b) When local activity