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Constitutional Law I
West Virginia University School of Law
Bastress, Robert M.

Constitutional Law Outline
Chapter 1 – The Nature and Sources of the Supreme Court’s Authority
I. Judicial Review – General Information
Judicial Review – review of the actions of other government issues by the judiciary
3 Layers of Judicial review:
1)      Do the courts have the power to second guess the judgments of the other branches of gov.
2)      Assuming Judicial Review, should it be EXERCISED in a particular case
3)      What should be the STANDARD OF REVIEW
Issues of Adjudications:
1.      political question: non-justiciable
a.       Separation of powers: committed by the constitution to other branches
b.      Prudential concerns: unwise if not unconstitutional to decide the case
2.      standing: significant stake in controversy to merit his being the one to litigate.
a.       What kind of interests in the outcome of the controversy are sufficient
3.      ripeness and mootness
a.       Mootness: events occurring after the complaint if filed have deprived the litigant of an on-going stake in the controversy
b.      Ripeness: not yet become sufficiently concrete to be worthy of adjudication
4.      abstention doctrine – all prudential
first 3 – constitutional and prudential
History of Marbury v. Madison:
Big political partisan struggle between Adam’s federalism and Jeffersonian republicans
Before Adam’s term ended federalists tried to load the judiciary with federalism
p. 3 Marbury v. Madison 1 Cranch (5 U.S.) 137 (1803)
Facts: Marbury sued Madison for a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court in order to get his commission to be a justice of the peace for DC. The commission was signed and sealed but never delivered before President Adams left office. Jefferson refused to deliver the commission.
1st — Does Marbury have a right to the commission?
2nd — Do the laws afford him a remedy?
3rd — Is a mandamus from the Supreme Court the appropriate remedy
Reasoning behind holdings:
Issue 1 – Concludes that vestige occurs when seal is affixed
Issue 2 – Delivering the commission is merely a ministerial duty not tied up with political discretion
Issue 3 – writ of mandamus directed against a public official to perform a duty
Solution – can issue writ if not intermeddling with the cabinet
Judiciary Act – Constitutional authority over judiciary is in Art. 3 § 2
Congress can’t expand on the court’s original jurisdiction
Duty of the court to decide what the law is – law includes the constitution and the constitution trumps any Acts
Supremacy Clause
Justifications for the creation of judicial review:
·         Supreme court does not respond to the whim of the people (isolation from factions) and also has expertise on the law
·         Oaths of office – requirement for judges to follow constitution as higher law
·         Court are least dangerous branch because can’t really enforce its own decisions – very dependent on other
·         Difficult for congress to evaluate clauses of every statute for constitutionalism
Additional Cases:
P. 26 Cooper v. Aaron – dealt with desegregation of Ark. High school who believed that because they were not a party to Brown they didn’t have to follow the desegregation order
Held that states are bound to enforce court orders even if they were not a party to the original cases; backed up by federal statutes
P. 29 Dickerson v. U.S. – can’t overturn a court decision on the constitution with a statute; must be a constitutional amendment
            ► Dickerson and Cooper stand for the proposition that neither the congress nor the states can act to overturn a decision of the supreme court on an issue of constitutional law
II. Political Questions
Political question – mainly deals with separation of powers, not federalism (as in this case)
foreign affairs – important to speak with one voice
matter for president/congress Goldwater v. Carter. Treaty ratification case. P. 40
validity of enactments – when do potential amendments die
how long can a constitutional amendment be ratification
deadline sometime can be added as a restriction clause
Coleman v. Miller (1979)
dates of duration of hostilities
Hamilton v. KY distilleries & W. Co. (1919)
Matter for president/congress determine then war is over
status of Indian tribes
up to president/congress to decide whether a tribe exists
have semi-soverenity nation
republican form of government through the guaranty clause – Art. 4 § 4
p. 33 Luther v. Borden (1849)
only can impeach judicial, executive officers
“high crimes and misdeamonors” – really determines what meaning is majority of the House
qualifications of congressional members
can say what qualifications are, but not if a candidate meets them
Factors to determine a political question — first three really the main important factors:
1.      a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a specific political department – primary issue today in political questions
2.      lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the issue
3.      need for finality and practicality
4.      resolution of issues ought to be avoided where they are too controversial or could produce enforcement problems or other difficulties
5.      impossible to decide without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion
6.      unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made
7.      potential embarrassment to branches

a.       Statute could mean something and be constitutional v. statute could mean something else and not be constitutional
b.      Certification act – allows to have state court determine meaning of a state issue
2.      Burford – abstain to avoid intervening court into complex state administrative law
3.      Younger – coined term “our federalism”
a.       Federal courts will not enjoin ongoing criminal proceedings, quasi-criminal proceedings, and civil actions
                                                                                      i.      Ex. D being prosecuted under what he saw as an unconstitutional case; sought injunction to stop proceedings
b.      P could bring civil rights action to stop a criminal case because could not get a fair trial in the state
                                                                                      i.      State courts could not give adequate relief
4.      Colorado River – abstain when state proceeding on more advanced than federal proceedings and states can provide adequate relief
p. 51 Warth v. Seldin (1975)
Facts: P claim that through zoning laws D has sought to intentionally exclude poor and black people from living in Penfield. Ps never lived in city but claim to have or had a desire to do so. Ps have never had an interest in Penfield property, is subject the ordinance, nor been denied a permit to live in the city.
Rule: No because Ps can’t show a real actual injury because reason can’t move to Penfield was because of housing market not zoning laws that discriminate against minorities.
Could have articulated “loss of chance” theory – ex. right to compete for a medical school seat free of discrimination; Constructor may be able to get 3rd party standing
p. 56 Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992)
Facts: ESA – to get funding Secretary of Interior must approve projects to make sure won’t hurt any endangered species. In 1978, extending reading of statute to apply to foreign projects as well, but changed mind next year to apply only to US projects. Ps sued to make Secretary use 1978 interpretation.
Rule: Redressibility was problem and the complaint did not contain enough facts; no assurance ever going to return to Africa