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Con Law Exam 1


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Original jurisdiction
the court in which a case begins or originates.
appellate jurisdiction
when a case involves the review of the decision of a lower court.
federal question
a question that involves the meaning and/or application of the Constitution, a statue, or a treaty of the United States.
latin for "to make sure."
a controversy must have reached a certain stage of maturity before the Court will engage it.
focuses attention on whether the litigant is the proper party to bring a lawsuit, not whether the issue itself is appropriate for courts to decide.
political question doctrine
a political question is one that the Court believes should be decided by the "political branches" of the government.
judicial activists
those who are more eager to intervene and to substitute their views for those of other policymakers
judicial restraintists
those inclined to defer to decisions made elsewhere in the political system
rule of four
a minimum of four justices must vote to accept a case.
solicitor general
the lawyer who represents the United States government in court cases
amicus curiae
a "friend of the court," someone who volunteers to offer information on a point of law or some other aspect of the case to assist the case in deciding a matter before it.
oral argument
arguments made by each party in a case before the justices. It also gives the justices an opportunity to ask questions to clear up uncertainties or other matters that they may have noticed in the briefs.
opinnion of the court
a representation of the consensus of the majority
plurality opinnion
in situations where a majority of the justices are unable to agree on a single opinion, a plurality opinnion announces the "judgment of the Court" (the outcome of the case) and explains the views of the plurality.
concurring opinnion
indicates a justice's acceptance of the majority decision but either an unwillingness to adopt all reasoning contained in the opinion or a desire to say something additional.
the one who brings the case before the court
the defendent against the appellant
to send back a case to the lower court for action "consistent with" the Court's decision.
separation of powers
In the exercise of their respective functions, neither Congress, president, nor judiciary may encroach on fields allocated to the other branches of government.
supremacy clause
Article VI of the Constitution declares that the Constitution is "the supreme law of the land."
writ of mandamus
an order by a court to a public official directing performance of a ministerial, or nondiscretionary, act.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
In this act Congress directed, with its Section 5 powers, that the free exercise clause meant what the Court deemed it to mean in 1963 (granted religiously based exemptions in the application of otherwise valid laws that inhibited religious practice), not what it deemed it to mean in 1990 (turned around 1963).
the sharing of rule-making authority between the bureaucracy and Congress
legislative veto
where Congress can set aside regulations made by bureaucratic agencies through a one-house, two-house, or even a committee resolution.
item veto
allows an executive to cross out certain provisions within a bill.
executive privilege
the right of certain officials in the executive branch to refuse to appear before Congress and the courts and to provide requested documents.
special prosecutor
is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the president
absolute immunity
immunity from private lawsuit that extends to all acts within "the outer permieter" of the presidents official duties.
qualified immunity
shielding officials from damage suits as long as their conduct does not violate "clearly established" statutory or consitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.
War Powers Resolution
(1) the president shall submit within 48hrs to the Speaker of the House and to the President pro tempore of the Senate, a report of action
reserved powers
the power of the state to legislate whatever the federal government is not permitted to legislate by the Constitution. (10th Ammendment)
implied powers
the national government may use any and all means to give effect to any power specifically granted by the constitution. ("necessary and proper clause")
express powers
the powers specifically delegated to Congress
necessary and proper clause
it gives the federal government a choice of means as it operates within the limited sphere of its activity.
the displacing effect that federal law will have on a conflicting or inconsistent state law.
judicial federalism
interaction between state and federal courts
national supremacy
the central government and states confront each other in the relationship of superior and subordinate.
dual federalism
a relationship between the national government and the states where the staes were sovereing, but final authority to determine the scope of state powers rested with the national judiciary.
police power
the regulatory authority that the states had not surrendered to the central government under the Constitution
Marbury v. Madison
(1) announced first that Marbury adn the others were entitled to their jobs and that the Court in a proper case could direct a coordinate branch of government to comply with the law.
(2) Section 13 of the Judiciary Act was unconstitutional because it prohibited the SC from issuing writs of mandamus as its original jurisdiction. There is no restriction expressely written in Article 3 of the Constitution.
(3) established judicial review of legislative and executive acts.
Eakin v. Raub
the dissent is a counter to judicial review: (1) the oath to support the constitution is not only for the judges, but every officer of the government has the duty to abide by Constitutional principles.
(2) Also, it is the duty of the people to correct abuses in legislation.
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Facts: Dred Scott (slave) taken to free state & territory and brought back to slave state --> sues for freedom.
Questions: (1) Does SC have jurisdiction to hear case of slave?
(2) Can blacks have citizenship & thus standing to sue?
(3) Can Congress outlaw slavery in certain territories witin the US? (Constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise)
Decision: (1) slaves do not have citizenship, they do not have the right to sue.
(2) Missouri Comp were beyond Congress's ability to enact --> the 5th Amendment bars any laws that deprive an individual of his property, slave included.
City of Boerne v. Flores
Facts: Catholic church wanted to enlarge its building and was denied zoning permit.
Question: Is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) constitutional under the 14th Amendment, Sec. 5?
Decision: RFRA is unconstitutional. The Court has the sole power of defining rights given by the 14th Amendment. Also the legislation was not designed to have "congruence and proportionality" with the substantive rights that the Court had defined, Congress could not constitutionally enact RFRA.
Mistretta v. United States
Facts: Congress created US sentencing commission under the Sentencing Reform Act. It was designed to attck discrepancies in sentencing by federal court judges through establishing guidelines.
Question: Mistretta claimed it violated the delegation of powers principle by giving the Commission "excessive legislative powers." Did the Act violate the Nondelegation doctrine (Art. 1, all legislative powers shall rest in Congress) of the Constitution?
Decision: the act was valid because the nondelegation doctrine does not prevent Congress from obtaining assistance from coordinate branches of gov. Congress established a classification hierarchy for federal crimes that the commission was to use as an outline for its work, so it was not wholly legislating.
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha
Facts: the Immigration and Nationality Act authorized the attorney general to suspend the deportation of a deportable alien. Also enabled either house of Congress to invalidate the suspension by resolution. Chadha, a deportable alien challenged Congress's power to invalidate suspension.
Question: Does the one-house veto of the Immigration and Nationality Act violate the seperation of powers principle of the Constitution?
Decision: The Court held that Congress could not exercise a legislative veto as it was a violation of the principles of bicameralism and the Presentment Clause (how a bill becomes a law); in the eyes of the justices, Congress was essentially passing new legislation (that overturned the INS decision) via resolution, without allowing the President to play his constitutionally assigned role in the legislative process.
Dissent: Without the legislative veto, Congress is faced with a choice of either refraining from delegating the necessary authority, leaving itself to write every law (an impossible task), or abdicate its lawmaking function to the executive branch and independent agencies (results in unaccountable policymaking)
Clinton v. New York
Facts: The Line-Item Veto Act allowed the President to nullify certain provisions of appropriations bills and disallowed the use of funds from canceled provisions for offsetting deficit spending in other areas. Clinton cancels certain provisions of the Balanced Budget Act and Taxpayer Relief Act and it affects the funds of hospitals in NY.
Question: Does the line item veto established in the Line Item Veto Act violate the presentment clause (how a bill becomes a law) of the Constitution?
Decision: the Act was invalid because it allowed the President to unilaterally amend or repeal parts of duly enacted statues. Statutes may be only enacted in accord with a single procedure and that a bill must be approved or rejected in its entirety.
Dissent: Scalia: No party had standing to challenge the Taxpayer Relief Act
Breyer: Does not violate Constitution because it lawfully delegates power to the President.
Watkins v. United States
Facts: Watkins was subpoenaed for a hearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and refused to answer questions about people he believed were no longer part of the Communist Party.
Decision: Did the activities of the committee constitute an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power?
Decision: the Court held that the committee had not given Watkins a fair opportunity to determine whether he could lawfully refuse to answer questions and his conviction for contempt was invalid under the 5th Ammendment due process.
Dissent: Watkins was properly questions about matters that were legitimately within the scope of topics.
Barenblatt v. United States
Facts: Barenblatt was suboenaed by the Un-American Activities Committee and refused to answer question regarding past affiliation with the Communist Party, contending that the committee had no power to inquire into political beliefs and associations.
Question: Did the committee's investigation into Barenblatt's affiliation with the Communist Party transgress his 1st Ammendment protections which limit congressional inquires?
Decision: The protections of the 1st Amendment do not afford a witness the right to rest inquiry in all circumstnaces and Congress needs to force witnesses to testify in order to effectively exercise its legislative function.
Dissent: People should not be subjected to governmental penalties for having dared to think for themselves.
United States v. Nixon
Facts: Nixon refused to give the White House tapes that Congress subpoenaed for, claiming his right to executive privelege.
Question: Does Nixon's claim of executive privelege, under separation of powers, allow him to withold information relevant to a criminal case?
Decision: the Constitution provides for laws enforceable on a president; and that executive privilege does not apply to "demonstrably relevant" evidence in criminal cases
Nixon v. Fitzgerald
Facts: Fitzgerald lost his job in a departmental reorganization. Nixon took responsibility for his discharge claiming absolute immunity from civil suits stemming from official actions.
Question: Does the President have absolute immunity from prosecution in a civil suit?
Decision: The president is entitled to immunity from liability for damages based on his official actions. Giving the president only "qualified" (partial) immunity would make his actions subject to judicial review and might compromise separation of powers. Determing "good faith" would mean examing the Presidents motives in each case and thus highly intrusive.
Dissent: absolute immunity places the President above the law.
Clinto v. Jones
Sexual harrasment claim against Clinton because he made false claims about Jones saying she did not mind being his mistress.
Question: Is a serving President, for separation of powers reasons, entitled to absolute immunity from civil litigation out of event that took place before he took office?
Decision: Court held that neither separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high level information can justify an unqualified presidential immunity from judicial process.
Morrison v. Olson
Facts: Ethics in Government Act provided for appointment of an independent counsel to investigate and prosecute high-ranking officials of the executive branch for violation of federal criminal laws. Once appointed, an independent counsel was removable only for cause. Olson was charged with giving false testimony to the committee.
Question: Does the independent counsel take away executive powers away from the president and create a hybrid "fourth" branch of government, thus violating the separation of powers doctrine?
Decision: The Court upheld the Independent Counsel Act because it did not violate the separation of powers by increasing the power of one branch at the expense of another. Instead, even though the President could not directly fire the independent counsel, the person holding that office was still an Executive branch officer, not under the control of either U.S. Congress or the courts.
Dissent: the law had to be struck down because (1) criminal prosecution is an exercise of "purely executive power" as guaranteed in the Constitution and (2) the law deprived the president of "exclusive control" of that power.
Ex Parte Milligan
Facts: Milligan was accused of planning to steal Union weapons and invade Union prisoner-of-war camps and were sentenced to hang by a military court in 1864.
Question: Does a civil court have jurisdiction over a military tribunal? Can congress/president suspend the writ of habeus corpus?
Decision: Military tribunals did not apply to citizens in states that upheld the authority of the constituion and where civilian courts were still operating. The Constitution only allows for suspension if these courts are actually forced closed.
Missiouri v. Holland
Facts: Congress had passed laws regulating the hunting of migratory waterfowl on the basis that such birds naturally migrated across state and international borders freely and hence the regulation of the harvest of such birds could not realistically be considered to be province solely of individual states or groups of states.
Question: Did the treaty infringe upon rights reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment? (powers not delegated to the federal government and probited to the states, are given to the states)
Decision: No, the national interest in protecting wildlife could be protected only by national action. The birds were not permanent inhabitants within individual states. The federal government's ability to make treaties is supreme over any state concerns about such treaties having abrogated any states' rights arising under the Tenth Amendment.
United States v. Curtis Wright Export Corporation
Facts: Congress granted the president the power to prohibit the sale of arms and munitions to warring nations.
Question: Did Congress unconstitutionally (Art. 1, sec. 8) delegate legislative power to the president?
Decision: The president has powers in the constitution to conduct foreign affairs in a way Congress cannot and should not.
Korematsu v. United States
Facts: Korematsu, an American citizen refused to leave his home to the war relocation centers.
Question: Did President and Congress go beyone their war powers by implementing exclusion and reestricting the rights of Americans of Japanese descent?
Decision: No, the need to protect against espoinage outweighed Korematsu's individual rights.
Youngston Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer
Facts: Labor unrest in the steel industry led to a presidential order authorizing the secretary of commerce to seize and operate steel mills.
Question: Did the President have constitutional authority under Art. 2 to seize and operate the steel mills?
Decision: No, the president has no power to act except in cases explicitly or implicitly by the constitution or an act of Congress.
United States v. United States District Court
Facts: a group was charged in with bombing a CIA office. In response to a pretrial motion by the defense for disclosure of all electronic surveillance information, Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, claimed he authorized the wiretaps persuant to Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and was not required to disclose the sources. Though warrantless, the act allows for an exception to prevent the overthrow of the government and when "any other clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the Government" exists. The Government contended that since the defendants were members of a domestic organization attempting to subvert and destroy it, this case fell under the exception clause. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan disagreed and ordered the Government to disclose all of the illegally intercepted conversations to the defendants. The Government appealed.
Question: Do warrantless searches for national security purposes violate the 4th amendment?
Decision: The Supreme Court upheld the prior rulings in the case, holding that the wiretaps were an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment and as such must be disclosed to the defense. This established the precedent that a warrant needed to be obtained before beginning electronic surveillance even if domestic security issues were involved.
Use of Force Resolution
the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or pershons he determines planned, authorized, committeed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11.
Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
Facts: Hamdi, a US citizen was captured in Afghanistan, and identified as an illegal enemy combatant and was held at Guantanamo Bay.
Question: Does Hamdi's detention without charges violate his rights as a US citizen to due process (5th Amendment)?
Decision: the Court agreed that the Executive Branch does not have the power to hold indefinitely a U.S. citizen without basic due process protections enforceable through judicial review. Although Congress had expressly authorized the detention of unlawful combatants in its Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11, due process required that Hamdi have a meaningful opportunity to challenge his detention.
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
Facts: Hamdan was held at Guantanamo as an enemy combatant, the Bush administration made arrangements to try him before a military commission authorized under Military Commission Order No. 1 of March 21, 2002. Hamdan filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that he was being held without due process.
Question:(1)are the geneva conventions judically enforceable by US Courts?
(2)Can congress bar judicial review of the military commission process?
Decision: The Court held that it did have jurisdiction to hear Hamdan's case before the military commission, but also that the federal government did not have the authority to devise such commissions. The military commissions were also illegal under the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention.
McCulloch v. Maryland
Facts: the Maryland Legislature attempted to tax banks and bank branches not chartered by the state legislature, including the 2nd bank of the US.
Question: (1) Does congress have the authority to establish the bank?
(2) Did Maryland law interfere with Art 1, Sec. 8 Federal powers (necessary and proper clause)
Decision: (1) the constitution was a social contract --> therefore the Fed. Gov. is supreme based on the consent of the people.
(2) Congress has implied powers (Art. 1) - to borrow money and regulate commerce
(3) Necessary and Proper - Congress can act as long as it is rational and constitutional
(4)Supremacy Clause - fed laws overturn state laws.
Texas v. White
Facts: Congress provided US bonds to Texas. After Texas seceded, Texas repealed a requirement that the governor of Texas endorse the bonds before redeeming them and authorized use of the bonds for war supplies. During the Reconstruction Gov. Texas sought to block payment to White who held the bonds. The defense interposed that the SC lacked jurisdiction to entertain this orginial action because Texas was not a state of the Union.
Question: (1)was Texas a state in the unioneligible to seek redress in the SC?
(2)could Texas constitutionally reclaim the bonds?
Decision: Texas had remained a state of the United States ever since it first joined the Union, despite its joining the Confederate States of America and its being under military rule at the time of the decision in the case. It further held that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null".
Garcia v. San Antonio Metro Transit Authority
Facts: The San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (SAMTA), the main provider of transportation in the San Antonio metropolitan area, claimed it was exempt from the minimum-wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. SAMTA argued that it was providing a "traditional" governmental function, which exempted it from federal controls according to the doctrine of federalism established in National League of Cities v. Usery (1976). Joe G. Garcia, an employee of SAMTA, brought suit for overtime pay under Fair Labor Standards Act.
Question: Is the application of the FLSA to state and local govs. permissible under the commerce clause ("To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.") and the 10th Amendment (States are able to do what is not given to fed gov.)?
Decision: In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that the guiding principles of federalism established in National League of Cities v. Usery were unworkable and that SAMTA was subject to Congressional legislation under the Commerce Clause. The Court found that rules based on the subjective determination of "integral" or "traditional" governmental functions provided little or no guidance in determining the boundaries of federal and state power. The Court argued that the structure of the federal system itself, rather than any "discrete limitations" on federal authority, protected state sovereignty.

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