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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

Issues of Adjudications:
1. political question
2. standing
3. ripeness and mootness
4. abstention doctrine – all prudental

first 3 – constitutional and prudental

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

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 vestage 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 intermeddlinig 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

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:

Cooper v. Aaron – dealt with desegregation of Ark. High school

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

Dickerson v. U.S. – can’t overturn a court decision on the constitution with a statutes; must be a constitutional amendment

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

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

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

Baker v. Carr 369 U.S. 186 (1962)
Facts: Tenn. Voters though the lack of reappointment in their state violated their equal protection rights because the district line had not been changed since 1901 and the state has significantly changed since then in terms of population locations
Rule: Not a political question because it is hard to vote out people when voting process is erred. Typically if people don’t like representation, they can vote them out. Also use the equal protection clause and not the Guaranty clause.

Powell v. McCormack

issue — whether House could refuse to seat a person who met all the basic requirements
holding – the court found the controversy justiciable and was at most a textually demonstrable commitment to Congress to judge only the qualifications expressly set forth in the constitution
reasoning – courts have to interpret constitutional duties of other branches

Nixon v. U.S. (1993)
Facts: Nixon took a bribe and the Senate voted to remove him from office.
Issue: Is the constitutionality of Senate Rule XI, which imposes a committee to hold the actual hearing for impeachment to get evidence and hear testimony, right because the Senate has the authority to try all impeachment hearings?
Rule: Critical meaning of the word “try” – SC decided that the Senate has the discretion to decide how to try;

ly 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
No guarantee pulling federal fund would put a stop to the projects; too many “maybes” lead to help the animals and US funding was very low percentage; need more concrete than nexus theories

Procedural right to standing – intervenes with separation of powers and particularly takes power from executive branch (to enforce) and would allow courts to decide when/how to enforce.

Allen v. Wright
Facts: Involved nation-wide class act which sought an injunction to force IRS to stop granting tax free status to racially discriminating schools.
Rule: Court held that too many factors to show IRS continued to cause segregation. Even if enjoin IRS, no assurance that kids will be put that kids will be put back into public school. Very explicit that standing is infused with separate of power – when claim involving other branch’s duties, harder to find standing

FEC v. Adkins
Facts: dealt with congressional provision that allowed anyone who believed a violation could file a petition.
Rule: Court upheld standing because showed concrete injury (informed voting); basically interfered with fundamental right to be an informed voter

Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw – Ps still had standing even after Ds corrected pollution problem because penalties were a deterrent effect and allowed as long as pollution was going on when started litigation

Adkins and Friends – severely limited Lujan’s holding

IV. Supreme Court’s Discretion

For 1st 150 years head every appeal had jurisdiction; taking a lot of appeals from state courts through writ of appeal

1920s court convinced congress docket was too full and hard to use petition for certiorari and court could determine what cases to hear
Court has enormous amount of discretion to hear cases

Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
Facts: Martin sparked by Va.’s refusal to obey Fairfax decision making land taken from Fairfax heirs after the Revolution as illegal. 1st case reversed Va. Decision and ordered them to enter a judgment for Martin. Va. Court then declared § 25 of judicial act as unconstitutional because: No authority to review state court