CONSTITUTIONAL LAW COURSE OUTLINE
SPRING 2006 – ASHDOWN
Marbury v. Madison (1803) – established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review which enabled them to declare acts of the other branches of government unconstitutional when those actions are “inconsistent with the Constitution.”
P wanted SC to issue them a writ of mandamus forcing Jefferson to grant commission.
Marshall’s Opinion – Marshall agreed that plaintiff had a right to the commission; however, Marshall came down against plaintiff because he said the SC was not able to examine an act of the executive branch in which the Constitution grants them the power to carry out (Political Question Doctrine).
Judicial Review – Marshall introduced judicial review by striking down Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as unconstitutional because that Act granted the SC the power to grant writs of mandamus under original jurisdiction. This directly contradicted Art III, Sec. II, Clause II ofthe Constitution which does not grant the SC original jurisdiction over issuing writs of mandamus, the SC only has original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, public consuls, and those in which a state is a party to the suit (Sec. II, Clause II).
i. Marshall stated that the Constitution was a “ceiling” on the powers granted to the three branches which could not be exceeded.
1. Supremacy Clause (Art. 6, Sec. I, Clause 2) – the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, all statutes must be in “pursuance of the Constitution.”
a. Section 13 over-exceeded Congress’s Constitutional power of being able to ONLY expand the SC’s appellate jurisdiction (not original).
2. Art. III, Sec. 2, Clause I – grants the SC original jurisdiction to all cases “arising under the Constitution.”
3. Therefore, it is the duty of the SC to say what the law is. The Constitution is the superior law; therefore, it is the role of the SC to have the final say in interpreting what the Constitution means.
Dickerson v. U.S. (2000) – Congress may only over-rule a decision by the SC through Constitutional Amendment.
only done four times
i. 11th – states have immunity from certain lawsuits
ii. 14th – reversing Dred Scott decision
iii. 16th – permitting federal income tax
iv. 26th – requiring states to allow 18 year olds the right to vote
THE CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS ON SC POWER
Art. III, § II, Clause I and II – the SC’s jurisdiction
Clause I – Subjects of Jurisdiction.
i. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity:
1. arising under the Constitution, the laws and treaties of the U.S.
2. to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls
3. to all cases of admirality and maritime jurisdiction
4. to all controversies in which the following are a party to the suit:
a. the U.S.
b. 2 or more states
c. A State and a citizen of another state
d. Citizens of different states
e. A state, or its citizens, and a foreign state, or its citizens
Clause 2 – Jurisdiction of the SC
i. Original jurisdiction – those affecting ambassadors and ministers, and those in which a state shall be a party
ii. Appellate jurisdiction – in all other cases before mentioned
1. under such regulation as the Congress shall make (think Marbury)
The Political Question Doctrine (Nonjusticiability)
Baker v. Carr – Unjusticiability test
i. Marshall in Marbury – “A textually demonstrable Constitutional commitment of the issue to another branch of government” – when the Constitution clearly gives another branch the power to decide a dispute or issue
Case or controversy requirement (Art. III, § 2, Clause 1) -the judicial power shall extend to enumerated cases and controversies. (restrictive language).
No advisory opinions – the SC may not give advice to Congress or the Executive regarding the Constitutionality of their actions or hypothetical future actions.
1. advisory opinions would erode the power of the SC because these opinions are only advice and do not have to be followed.
2. judicial restraint and strict necessity – the SC only acts when it is absolutely necessary to protect the Constitution or the rights of an individual.
Standing – the parties involved must have a real “stake” in the controversy. The plaintiff must have a “case” or “controversy” against the defendant before a federal court will adjudicate.
i. Constitutional requirements for standing
1. The plaintiff must allege that he suffered or will immediately suffer injury, This creates the dispute between the parties.
a. Injury must be concrete and personal (directly suffered by plaintiff).
b. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife – SC ruled that defendants had no standing because none of them had actually been injured or imminently in danger of being injured due to the plaintiff’s (Sec. of Interior) foreign regulation of endangered species. SC struck down a “citizen-suit” provision of the Endangered Species Act which allowed individuals to sue on behalf of the public without personal injury.
2. The injury is fairly traceable to the defendant’s conduct (causation in fact).
If defendant is the cause of plaintiff’s injury, then it is likely that halting the defendant’s behavior will stop the injury.