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Constitutional Law Essay, Research Paper


Two foundations of our government, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

-Individual rights from God, give up some liberty to the state.

-A federation is a union of states.

-States do not give up their own sovereignty.

-Taxation supports the army

-balance of power-

-absolute power corrupts. fed. v. state

Central gov?t of seperated powers, the three branches of limited and separate power.

1st Attempt, the Articles of Confederation. The constitution protects individuals from the government, places restrictions on the gov?t.

Three categories:

IDiscussion of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

IIGovernmental bodies created by the constitution

A.Struggle between Federal v. Federal

B.Struggle between Federal v. State

IIIStruggles between the Gov?t (state and/or federal) v. Individual

IDiscussion of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Article III ? creates the Supreme Court.

Article I ? creates the Congress

The president nominates the judges and Congress approves the nomination. Life tenure for federal judges.

Congress decides how many justices on the federal court. The Supreme Court divides its authority between original and appellate jurisdiction.

IIGovernmental bodies created by the constitution

A.Struggle between Federal v. Federal

MARBURY v. MADISON (power grab or seizure of power by Marshall for the ct.)

1788-the const. was ratified. G.W. brought in a Federalist Congress and judges for 8 years. Adams and Marshall kept the Federalists alive in the Judiciary.

-Jefferson issued and executive order to Madison not to deliver the Commission for justice of the peace to Marbury.

-Marbury wants writ of mandamus from supreme ct.

Is this a proper case for the issue of a writ of mandamus? Yes.- A federal officer is refusing to perform a mandatory duty (not a discretionary duty-in which the court can?t issue mandamus).

-It is a ministerial, mandatory duty of delivering the commission. Marshall goes further as to whether the supreme ct. should issue the writ.

-Marbury presents statutory authority that he is in the right ct. The Judiciary Act of 1789. Congress created the act. p4d.

Whether Congress has the power to give this jurisdiction to the Ct?

-Marshall cites the Const. Art. III. Sup. ct has original and appellate jurisdiction ?2 (2).

-Madison is not a public minister nor a diplomat. Sup. ct does not have original jurisdiction.

The statute and the Const. conflict. Congress v. Const.

-Const. superior to any law made by Congress.

-Const. is to be the supreme law, not a federal statute.

Supremacy Clause- Article 6 sub. 2 p.1447

-Sup. Ct. declared the act (Judiciary Act) of congress unconstitutional. Judicial Review- the power to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.

-Marshall should have interpreted the statute to avoid constitutional conflict. p4 d. The Judiciary Act.

-Gives the sup. ct. authority to issue writs of mandamus only in regard to appellate jurisdiction.

-There is nothing wrong with the statute. Marbury should have gone to the lower ct. and then appealed if it ruled against him. It was necessary to hold the statute unconstitutional.

-Marshall said Sup. ct. can issue writs of mandamus on original jurisdiction.

-Oath to uphold the Constitution by the three branches. The Act is constitutional. The branches are co-equal, have as much power as judiciary.

-The other branches silently agreed w/ the sup. ct. about the unconstitutionality of the act.

No general agreement or majority rules.

Anti-majoritarian rule- the weight of 5 judges v. everyone else.

Exception in history where what the fed. ct. said wasn?t followed: the Cherokee Indian Cases

-land was given to the Indians by Federal Treaty. State of Georgia violated treaty. Pres. had the power to enforce the court order but didn?t.

-Sup. ct. cannot enforce its own laws, no purse (Congress), and no sword (president).

-Sup. ct. infallible because they are final, the ct. looks at the case last.

-Sup. ct. can declare acts and laws of Congress and states unconstitutional.


1.Get Congress to issue a writ of impeachment v. a judge or judges. -Jefferson and Madison wanted to impeach Marshall, but couldn?t even impeach Chase.

2.Get Congress to increase the number of judges to overturn the ruling. ?Court packing Plan? of F.D.R.

Amend the const. Congress has to initiate the amendment, 2/3 of Congress to propose, and ? of the states to ratify.

Don?t re-elect the pres. who appointed those judges..

Art. III- make an act, exceptions to appellate jurisdiction ?as Congress may make.? Change the appellate jurisdiction of the supreme ct.

Criticize the decision of the court by the media, which might make them change their views.

-Article III- no federal cts. of general juris.- limitation on what is given to fed. cts.

Federal Courts have Judicial Power over:

All cases under constitutional issues, federal law, or treaties (Federal question jurisdiction.)

Ambassadors, international matters, public ministers, and consuls.

Admiralty and maritime law.

Cases involving the U.S. as a plaintiff or def.

Cases between two different states.

State v. citizen of another state

citizens of two different states ?diversity of citizenship.

Congress can?t grant more power that Art. III already gave, but it can take away power.


-case based on a federal treaty. State court, state case, interpreted the treaty. loser says it was decided incorrectly and it goes up to Sup. ct.

-federal question jurisdiction, sup. ct. has jurisdicition.

-state court does not want to follow the sup. ct.?s mandate.

-The sup. ct. has jurisdiction, by way of the Judiciary Act

-State court says Congress did not have the power to give the Sup. Ct. that power found in Judiciary act, which then violates Article III. State says sup. ct. has jurisd. only if the lower ct. was a fed. ct.

-therefore, only if the case arose in the federal system. The sup. ct. has no authority if the case arose in a state ct., since there is no mention of state courts in Art. III.

-Article III states the Sup. Ct . can decide all cases. State cts. have to decide const. issues. state judges can come to different conclusions about the same law. Federal law should be uniform.

-Fed. ct. has the last word on whether the state ct.?s ruling is correct or not.


-the lottery is illegal in Virginia. Cohen is a lottery agent who is licensed in D.C. under federal statute. Appeals to highest ct. in Virginia. Writ to sup. ct. Federal question jurisdiction, issue is of a federal law.

-For appellate jurisdiction, there is diversity jurisdiction, citizen of one state v. another state.

-two grounds for jurisdiction in Art. III.

*In criminal matters, the sup. ct. has appellate jurisdiction under the constitution for due process violations.

Limitations on Judicial Power: -cases or controversies, or else an order of a fed. ct. is not valid.

there has to be actual contending litigants

there has to be concrete injury that can be fixed ( injury-in-fact).

*fed. cts. cannot issue advisory opinions. Separation of powers, it would be like interfering with another co-equal branch.

Article III ? governs the jurisdiction of the federal courts. there may also be other jurisdiction in article III, but Congress has not granted that authority.

Congressional laws are superior to state law.

to have standing, the doctrine of case or controversy must be present.

unconstitutionality and injury-in-fact.

federal question in state court- the judge can test the constitutionality of the federal law in a state court.

the state ct. judge looks at two federal laws, the constitution and the federal statute in deciding.

Can a state judge declare a federal statute unconstitutional in a state court. Yes, he swore an oath to uphold the constitution.

-there must be uniformity, a federal statute has to be uniform in every state.

if federal question jurisdiction is present and the state is a party, then appellate jurisdiction is given to the supreme ct. not original jurisdiction.

To bring a case to a federal court as a plaintiff, you need:

a case or controversy;

standing- an injury (solid, personal, concrete injury)

Article III states no federal court jurisdiction unless it is a case or controversy and there is an aggrieved person.

-the sup. ct. cannot review an advisory opinion of the ct. of appeals because it is not a case or controversy.

the sup. ct. cannot review the law because of the separation of powers, it would be interfering with the other branches.


-the plaintiff is suing on behalf of the black public school children.

-white private segregated schools get a tax exemption by the IRS. IRS says its not discriminating.

the tax exemption does not directly discriminate. the plaintiffs want integration if public schools, not private.

giving exemptions to all private schools includes desegregated schools.

the injury is stigmatic.- all blacks are inferior, reflects on the whole race.

can?t sue under stigmatic injury.

the only people who have standing are the black people in that district that want to enter the private tax exempt school.

injury= lack of integrated education. Even now they don?t have standing, because they are not being injured by the IRS.

in order to have injury-in-fact, the person you are suing has to be the cause of injury.

therefore, an order of the court cannot redress the injury.

plaintiffs says it will because private schools will be less affordable without the tax exemption, discourage desegregation, because the people from the private school will go to public schools.

the ct. says no to this argument. plaintiffs have not shown that the amount of deduction would cause that hypo, too speculative.

Under Article III, the bedrock of case or controversy doctrine is the separation of powers.

Doctrine of Prudential Limitation : judicially self-imposed limits.

the court will refuse to take the case, if the injury sought won?t justify their interference with the other branches.

3rd party standing- the right to raise another person?s right, even if it also hurts you, you?re hurt by a violation of his constitutional rights.

the ct. will most likely not give standing because the person whose right?s are violated has the best case.

prudential limitation is under article III jurisdiction.

the ct. can allow the 3rd party jurisdiction later on if the litigant before the court has just as good a position or the only position to raise the right of the 3rd party.

the litigant must be injured.

example: poor women who want abortions

dr. who renders abortion brings the case.

no standing? the dr. has standing, injury of loss of money.

let the dr. raise the right of poor women, they will never bring it.

* Prudential limitation is not an article III limitation, it is a 3rd party limitation.

U.S. v. SCRAP- R.R. charges too much for the shipping of scrap metals.

-standing with regard to objecting to a federal agency.

-any person aggrieved by a federal agency may sue in federal ct.

-there must be an injury

-Congress wants people to be able to sue if they have problems with the Federal agency as long as they are aggrieved. Need the same standing as in Art. III

-plaintiffs claim is that the price of shipping is too high, therefore recycling is too expensive, and the park is polluted, this is not injury-in-fact.

- standing requires causation, a remote chain of causation.

- this is too speculative, there is no causation.

- Aesthetic injury is enough injury to satisfy injury-in-fact.


-poor people v. I.R.S. for giving tax deductions to hospitals who treat poor people for nothing.

-plaintiffs want the I.R.S. to take the tax exemptions away, and than it give it back, when the hospitals treat them for nothing.

-ct. said no standing, it is too speculative to say tax deductions will allow the hospitals to treat poor people for nothing.

-*the dissent – says the causation here is still clearer than that of SCRAP.

- this is not an Art. III case, it has nothing to do with the limitation.

SIERRA CLUB v. MORTON- the club wants to object to a ruling that allows a ski resort to destroy the park.

-injury-in-fact is not present in this case.

- plaintiffs alleged that any of its members who go to the park, suffer aesthetic injury.

-the club is the plaintiff in this case, not the members. The organization can sue for its members, but the members have to be injured.

-if the club sues then there must be a relationship between the purpose of the club and the injury suffered by the members.


- Federal law that women will receive more S.S. money than men, and that if anyone objects, no one gets the money.

-plaintiff is a man, who but for his gender, would be getting the extra money.

- he has no standing, because the ct. cannot redress the injury. Since the man objected he will not get any money, regardless of what the ct. says.

-Equal treatment is the claim he should have made, because if he wins then no one gets the money.

-the ct. could redress that injury, therefore he would have standing.

Standing: the power of any federal ct. to take a case.

-state cts. can render advisory opinions.

The supreme ct. is an anti-majoritarian body that can strike down a law everybody likes and declare it unconstitutional.

- the ct. is not anti-majoritarian when it strikes down a statute which violates a higher law (the constitution)

-the constitution is not anti-majoritarian, it was ratified by all the states.

- the constitution makes a law invalid.

- there is no provision in the constitution that makes a statute/law unconstitutional. The sup. Ct. can just declare it unconstitutional

-the ct. can go beyond interpreting to revising the law, and this is when the sup. Ct. is anti-majoritarian.

P. 1448- the 3rd amend.-Quartering Act. Look at the spirit of the constitutional amend, not only the words, to see if it is still valid and constitutional.


- there was a federal law that a committee had to review the effect of a project on the endangerment of a species before money could be expended for that project.

- the review was limited to projects within the U.S. Outside the U.S. review was not required.

- do the defenders of Wildlife have standing to object?

- Congress said that under the Administrative Procedure Act, only an aggrieved party has standing.

-this federal statute stated that any person can bring an action. There is a conflict between the two fed. acts.

- A person is needed to represent the wildlife.

- ct. said D.O.W. have no standing because there is no case or controversy.

- plaintiffs allege that Congress gave them standing to sue in fed. ct. to make sure the law is properly enforced.

- ct. stated that there was no injury-in-fact to the plaintiffs. All the ct. can do is declare the law of congress unconstitutional.

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