Federal Constitutional Law
Terms in this set (22)
Article 3: federal judicial power extends to cases involving: interoperation of the Constitution, federal laws, treaties, and admiralty and wartime laws AND disputes between states, states and foreign citizens, and citizens of diverse citizenship
SCOTUS can review constitutionality of acts of other branches of the federal government. Can also review state acts pursuant to Supremacy Clause.
- federal courts
- jurisdiction of Supreme Court (original and appellate jurisdiction)
Constitutional and self-imposed limitations on exercise of federal jurisdiction--"strict necessity": whether a case is "justiciable" (meaning federal court can address it) depends on whether there is a "case or controversy." In addition to this requirement, there are other limits on federal court jurisdiction.
- no advisory opinions
- ripeness: immediate threat of harm
- adequate and indept state grounds
- political questions
- 11th amendment limits on federal court (federal courts cannot hear a private party's or foreign gov't claims against a state gov't)
Federal gov't has limited powers. Every exercise of federal power must be traced to Constitution.
- Enumerated and implied powers
- Delegation of legislative power
- Speech and debate clause: immunity for federal legislators
- Congressional "veto" of executive actions invalid
1. Appointment and removal
3. Veto power
4. Power as chief executive
Powers over external affairs:
2. Foreign relations
3. Treaty power
4. Executive agreements
Executive privilege/immunity: president has privilege to keep certain communications secret. National security secrets are given great deference by courts. EXCEPT in criminal proceedings, presidential comm. will be available to prosecution where need for such info. is demonstrated. President has absolute immunity from civil damages based on any action he took w/in his official responsibilities, but no immunity for acts that allegedly occurred before taking office. If presidential aids have exercised discretionary authority in sensitive area, they may share in the immunity for suits brought concerning that area.
Relative spheres of federal and state powers
- Exclusive federal powers
- Exclusive state powers
- Concurrent federal and state power: effect of supremacy clause (federal law can supersedes or preempt local laws)
- Absence of federal and state powers
- Interstate compact clause
The U.S. can sue a state w/o its consent. Public policy forbids a state from using the U.S. w/o its consent. Congress can pass legislation that permits the U.S. to be sued by a state in given situations.
A suit against a federal officer is deemed to be brought against U.S. itself it judgment sought would be satisfied out of the public treasury or would interfere w/ public administration and therefore is not permitted.
Specific relief against an officer of an individual will be granted if the officer acted ultra vires (beyond his authority).
One state can sue another state w/o the latter's consent. Supreme Court has exclusive original jurisdiction.
Intergovernmental tax and regulation immunities
Congress can subject state and local gov't activities to regulation or taxation if law or tax applies to BOTH the public sector and private sector (like minimum wage laws).
- Tax or regulation applying only to states (exception-civil rights and spending power conditions)
- Commandeering state officials (while not specifically resting on 10th amendment, Supreme Court has held Congress cannot require state exec. officials (like policy) to enforce federal laws bc it would upset Constitution's "dual sovereignty" structure (like both states and federal gov't are sovereigns).
- State tax and regulation of federal gov't
Privileges and immunities clauses
Article 4: Interstate Privileges and Immunities Clause prohibits discrimination by a state against nonresidents. Corporations and aliens are not protected by this clause. In contrast, corporations and aliens are protected by Equal Protection and DPC of 14th Amendment, as well as Dormant Commerce Clause.
- Only "fundamental rights" protected
- Substantial justification exception
- Note: relationship to commerce clause
14th amendment: Privileges of national citizenship: state cannot deny their citizens the privileges or immunities of national citizenship (e.g., the right to petition Congress for redress of grievances, right to vote for federal officers, and right to interstate travel). Corporations not protected by this clause.
State regulation of foreign commerce
With a few minor exceptions, power to regulate foreign commerce lies exclusively with Congress.
State regulation of interstate commerce
Regulation of commerce by Congress (power of Congress to supersede or preempt state regulation; power of congress to permit or prohibit state regulation)
State regulation of commerce in the absence of Congressional action: if congress has not enacted laws regarding the subject, state or local gov't can regulate local aspects of interstate commerce. To do so, however, it must NOT discriminate against or unduly burden interstate commerce. If it does, state or local regulation will violate the commerce clause.
- discriminatory regulations
- Exception for important state interest
- Exception for the state as a "market participant"
- Favoring gov't preforming traditional gov't functions
- nondiscriminatory laws: balancing test
Twenty-first amendment: state control over intoxicating liquor
- Intrastate regulation
- Interstate regulation
- Federal power
Power of states to tax interstate commerce
The same general consideration that apply to state regulation of commerce apply to state taxation of commerce.
- General considerations: Congress has complete power to authorize or forbid state tax that affects interstate commerce.
- Uses taxes: use taxes are imposed on goods purchased outside the state but used w/in it. They are valid. An interstate seller can be required to collect a use tax IF the seller has a sufficient nexus with the taxing state (e.g., maintains offices in taxing state). Merely soliciting orders by mail and shipping orders into the state is not sufficient.
- Sales Tax: taxes imposed on the seller of goods for sales consummated w/in the state. Generally do not discriminate against interstate commerce; rather, the issue usually involved whether there is a substantial nexus between the taxpayer and taxing state or whether the tax is properly apportioned.
- Ad valorem property taxes: taxes based on assessed value of property in question.
- Privilege, license, franchise, or occupational taxes: so-called "doing business" taxes are generally permitted. Such taxes may be measured by flat amount or by promotional rate based on K w/ taxing state. In either case, basic requirements must be met: (1) activity taxed must have substantial nexus to taxing state; (2) tax must be fairly apportioned; (3) tax must not discriminate against interstate commerce; and (4) tax must fail relate to services provided by the state.
- Powers of states to tax foreign commerce: import-export clause and the commerce clause greatly limit the states' power to tax foreign commerce.
Limits on power and state action requirement
Constitutional restrictions on power over individuals: Constitution sets minimum threshold of rights. States generally are free to grant broader rights than those granted by U.S. Constitution.
- Bill of Rights
- 13th Amendment
- 14th and 15th Amendment )scope of Congressional power under 14th)
- Commerce clause
- Rights of national citizenship
State action requirements: because Constitution generally applies only to gov't action, to show constitutional violation "state action" must be involved.
- exclusive public functions
- significant state involvement: facilitating private action
K Clause- impairment of K: limits ability of states to enact laws that retroactively impair K rights. Does not affect Ks not yet made.
Ex post facto laws: state or federal gov't cannot pass ex post facto law (law retroactively altering criminal offenses or punishment in a substantially prejudicial manner for punishing a person for some past activity)
Bill of attainder: legislative acts that inflict punishment on individuals w/o judicial trial. Both federal and state government are prohibited from passing bills of attainder.
Due process considerations: if retroactive law does not violate K, ex post facto, or bill of attainder clauses, it still must pass DPC muster. If retroactive law does not relate to a fundamental right, it need only be rationally related to a legitimate government interest.
Procedural due process
Fair process (notice and hearing) is required for gov't agency to individually take a person's "life, liberty, or property." Only intentional-not negligent-deprivation of these rights violate DPC.
Taking life, liberty or property
What type of process is required: determined by 3-part balancing test that weights:
1. importance of interest to individual
2. value of specific procedural safeguards to that interest; AGAINST
3. gov't interest in fiscal and admin efficiency
Presumably, fair procedures and unbiased decision makers will also be required. Notice and chance to respond before termination of the liberty or property interest are usually required.
As general rule, DP rights are (presumably) subject to waiver if waiver is voluntary and made knowingly.
Gov't fees (court filing fees) must be waived when imposition of fee would deny a fundamental right to a indigent. EX: marriage license or divorce court filing fee or filing fee (privacy rights) or candidates of electoral office must be waived (voting rights). Fees can be imposed when non fundamental rights involved (like fees for bankruptcy discharge or review of welfare termination.
5th amendment provides that private property cannot be taken for PUBLIC USE w/o JUST COMPENSATION. Rule is applicable to states via 14th amendment. Taking clause is not source of power for taking, but a limitation. Taking includes not only physical appropriates but also some gov't act that damages property or impairs its use. Property subject to Taking Clause includes personal property as well as real property.
- "Public use" limitation liberally construed
- Taking v. Regulation
>> actual appropriation or physical invasion
>> use restrictions
>> remedy - "just compensation"
Introduction to substantive due process and equal protection
SDP and EP guarantees require Court to review substance of law rather than procedures employed.
- SDP: law limits liberty of all persons to engage in some activity, on the MBE it usually is a DP question.
- EP: if law treats person or class of persons differently from others (class of one)
Under either guarantee, Court reviewing legitimacy of government acts. Three standard of review are used:
Substantive due process
DPC of 5th applies to federal government
DPC of 14th applies to state and local gov't
Same tests are applied under each clause
When fundamental rights limited, law or action is evaluated under SS. In all other cases, RBR applied.
If facts presumed against person so that she cannot demonstrate that she is qualified for some important benefit or right, the "irrefutable presumption" can be unconstitutional.
Fair notice - regulated persons or entitled must get fair notice of conduct that is forbidden or required. Regulation that fails to give fair notice violates DPC.
EP of 14th limited to state action. Grossly unreasonably discrimination by federal government violates DPC of 5th. EX: under 5th, SCOTUS struck down federal law defining "marriage" and "spouse" to exclude same sex couples as applied to states that recognize same sex couples.
- Applicable standards
- Proving discriminatory classification
- Suspect classifications
- Quasi-suspect classifications
- Other classifications
Certain FR are protected under Constitution.
If they are denied to everyone = SDP problem.
If they are denied to some people but other others = EP problem.
Applicable standard in either case is SS. Thus, government action must be NECESSARY to protect COMPELLING governmental interest. Remember that there must be no less restrictive means to achieve this goal.
- Right of privacy (marriage, use of contraceptives, procreation, abortion, obscene reading material, keeping extended family together, rights of parents, intimate sexual conduct, collection and distribution of personal data-no privacy right)
- Right to vote
- Right to travel
First amendment freedoms: freedom of speech and assembly
First amendment prohibits Congress from establishing a religion or interfering w/ the free exercise of religion, abridging freedoms of speech and press, interfering w/ right of assembly. These prohibitions are applicable to the states through 14th Amendment.
Whenever gov't seeks to regulate freedoms of speech or assembly, Court will weigh great importance of speech and assembly rights against interests or policies sought to be served by the regulation.
- Government speech
- Content v. conduct
- Reasonableness of regulations
- Scope of speech
- Time, place, manner restrictions - regulation of conduct
>> public forums and designated public forums
>> limited public forums and nonpublic forums
- Unprotected speech - regulation based on content
>> inciting imminent lawless action
>> fighting words
>> defamatory speech
>> some commercial speech
- Prior restraints (procedural safeguards, obscenity cases)
First amendment freedoms: freedom of press
Generally, no press has greater 1st Amendment freedom than does a private citizen.
1. Publication of truthful information
2. Access to trials
3. Requiring press to testify before grand jury
4. Business regulation or tax
5. Broadcasting regulations (fairness doctrine)
6. Cable TV regulation
7. Internet regulation
First amendment freedoms: freedom of association and belief
Although freedom of association is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution, it is clearly implied from the rights that there are explicitly noted. Pursuant to this freedom, gov't can neither prohibit politically unpopular groups nor unduly burden a person's right to belong to such groups.
But note this right is not absolute. Infringement of the right would be justified by a COMPELLING gov't interest, unrelated to the suppression of ideas, if the infringements are the LEASE RESTRICTIVE MEANS of protecting the gov't interest involved.
And in some cases, the Court applies a more lenient standard and allows infringement upon showing something less than necessity to achieve a compelling interest. However, an infringement of right to associate is not allowed if it would significantly affect a group's right to express its viewpoints.
- Electoral process: laws regulating elections might impact 1st Amendment. Court uses balancing test.
- Bar membership and public employment
- School sponsorship of extracurricular clubs
First amendment freedoms: freedom of religion
1st Amendment prohibitions on establishing a religion and its protection of free exercise of religion is applicable to states through 14th.
>> Free exercise clause
>> Establishment clause