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Con Law 1 Case List

Terms in this set (63)

Under Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849), challenges to the malapportionment of state legislatures brought under the Guaranty Clause of the Constitution are inappropriate political questions. Unlike Luther, the case at bar is brought under the Equal Protection Clause There is no question the Court is meant to adjudicate plaintiffs' rights to equal protection under the laws due to its precedent. For an issue to be a non-justiciable political question, one of six tests (listed in descending order of importance and certainty) must be satisfied: (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of that issue to another political branch; (2) a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the issue; (3) an impossibility of deciding the issue without making an initial policy determination of a kind not suitable for judicial discretion; (4) a lack of respect for the other branches of government in undertaking independent resolution of the case; (5) an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or (6) the potential for embarrassment for differing pronouncements of the issue by different branches of government. In the present case, there is no textually-demonstrable commitment of Equal Protection issues to other branches of government. There are certain judicial standards already in place for adjudicating such claims, and because Baker is an individual person suing a state government, there is no separation of powers concerns implicated. This claim does not fall under one of the six tests of a political question and therefore the claim is justiciable. The case is remanded to the district court for consideration of the merits.
Pursuant to the limitations of Article III of the Constitution, a federal court may not decide an issue in the absence of an actual case or controversy. An issue is moot, and not capable of review, if its resolution would no longer affect the rights of the litigants at the time they are before the court, as opposed to when the case was initiated. In this case, DeFunis' challenge to the University's admission process is moot. The only remedy sought by DeFunis was an injunction requiring his admission to the University, which he received. He is now in his final term, and the parties agree that he is entitled to receive his degree. A resolution of the issues is unnecessary to provide DeFunis with his desired result. An exception to the mootness doctrine that would permit federal review may arise when there has been a voluntary cessation of the alleged illegal activity, and the defendant is free to return to the conduct complained of in the future. In this case, however, mootness depends not on whether the University voluntarily ceased its admissions practices, but on the fact that DeFunis will be allowed to complete his legal studies. Another exception to mootness that would permit review arises when a case presents a question that is capable of repetition, yet evading review. However, the issue as it applies to DeFunis is not capable of repetition, because he will no longer be subject to the University's admission process. The issue will also not evade future review, as future complaints against the admission process may be brought before the courts, and more quickly, now that the lower courts have ruled on the issue. DeFunis' challenge to the University's admission process is moot, and cannot be decided by this Court consistent with Article III of the Constitution.
Congress has authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause to enact a statute permitting civil commitment of sexually dangerous federal inmates. First, the Necessary and Proper Clause confers expansive power on Congress to enact legislation that is convenient or useful. Though Congress's powers are limited and enumerated, the Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress the ability to enact any law that is rationally related to the implementation of a constitutionally enumerated power. See McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819). The Court has eschewed narrow interpretations of this clause. The Constitution does not expressly provide that Congress may criminalize behavior or control prisons. Such acts are proper under Congress's sweeping authority to carry into execution the powers vested by the Constitution. Second, Congress has authorized civil commitment of federal detainees and prisoners since the 1850s. This statute is only a small extension of the existing mental health framework for federal prisoners. Third, it was reasonable for Congress to provide for civil commitment of sexually dangerous inmates. Congress is the custodian of federal prisoners and may therefore constitutionally take steps to protect the public from those inmates. Fourth, the statute does not violate the Tenth Amendment by usurping powers reserved to the states. In fact, the statute specifically provides that inmates must be handed over if states assert their authority. Finally, the statute is sufficiently related to enumerated Article I powers and does not give Congress general police powers.
The Commerce Clause gives Congress broad power to regulate channels, instrumentalities, and people in interstate commerce, as well as intrastate activities with substantial effects on interstate commerce. U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, cl. 3. Nevertheless, Congress may not compel individuals to participate in commercial activity under this provision. The individual mandate does not regulate existing commercial activity. Instead, the mandate compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. The mere possibility that individuals will participate in commercial activity at some point in the future is not enough to justify regulation under the commerce power. Validating the individual mandate on this ground would open the door to all sorts of regulation not contemplated by the Framers. For example, obesity has contributed more to rising healthcare costs than the uninsured, but the federal government cannot compel people to buy vegetables. Next, the Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress power to take actions incidental to the valid exercise of some enumerated power. U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, cl. 18. This clause alone, however, cannot justify the individual mandate. Nevertheless, the mandate imposing a "penalty" is more akin to a tax. The penalty is paid to the IRS when individuals file their tax returns, the amount is dependent upon household income, and revenue is generated for the government. It is reasonable to construe the individual mandate as increasing taxes on those who have a certain income, but choose to go without health insurance. Thus, the individual mandate is within Congress's power to tax.
The Constitution does not permit Congress to retain an active role in supervising officers tasked with executing the laws of the United States. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution permits the President to appoint officers with the advice and consent of the Senate, but then explicitly states that Congress shall only be involved in removal of these officers through the impeachment process. If Congress had additional removal powers over executive officers, the legislative branch would essentially have control over the execution of laws. This would violate the separation of powers doctrine as Congress could exercise a "congressional veto" over the actions of executive officers by threatening to remove or removing officers who were found to be executing laws in a manner unsatisfactory to Congress. The Act's provision for Congress to remove the Comptroller General for "inefficiency," "neglect of duty," or "malfeasance" gives Congress broad removal discretion as these are general terms that encompass a wide variety of scenarios. Since Congress has retained removal authority over the Comptroller General, this official may not be entrusted with executive functions under the doctrine of separation of powers. The fact that the Act gives the Comptroller General the ultimate authority to determine what budget cuts are to be made, and to command the President to carry out these budget cuts, means that the Comptroller General has been tasked with purely executive functions. By placing this responsibility in an official that is subject to removal only by itself, Congress has unconstitutionally retained control over executive functions.
The Constitution divides federal officers into "principal" and "inferior" officers. The Appointments Clause requires principal officers be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, but allows inferior officers to be appointed by the President, department heads, or the judiciary. In this case, the independent counsel is an inferior officer. First, the independent counsel is subject to removal by a higher executive officer, the Attorney General. Second, the independent counsel's powers are limited to investigation and prosecution, which do not impact executive policy. In addition, the independent counsel has limited jurisdiction and tenure. Thus, Congress may authorize the interbranch appointment of independent counsels by the judiciary, as permitted by the Excepting Clause of the Constitution. The functions of the Special Division authorized by the Act are permissible under Article III, though the Division has exceeded these functions in the past. Next, the Act is consistent with separation of powers principles. Congress vested appointment power in the judiciary and removal authority in the Attorney General; thus, Congress did not usurp executive authority for itself. Further, limiting presidential authority to remove officials without cause has been upheld in the past. Humphrey's Executor v. U.S., 295 U.S. 602 (1935). The good cause requirement is not a burden on the president's ability to execute his constitutional authority. This is because the president's need to fully control such "inferior officers" is not central to the functioning of the executive branch. The branches of government are separate but interdependent, and the Act does not violate the separation of powers by usurping executive authority or upsetting the balance of power between the branches.
The Maryland statute does not discriminate against interstate commerce. The law does not favor in-state oil producers, because there are no in-state oil producers or refiners. All of Maryland's gasoline supply comes from outside the state; thus, there is no disparate impact on in-state and out-of-state oil companies. A state statute may run afoul of the Commerce Clause by (1) "discriminating against interstate commerce," (2) "unduly burdening interstate commerce," and (3) regulating commercial activity that is so interstate in nature that it should be a matter of federal concern. Several factors are helpful when determining whether a statute impermissibly discriminates against interstate commerce: the regulations (a) create obstacles for interstate dealers, (b) impede the flow of interstate goods, (c) add costs to interstate goods, or (d) create distinctions between in-state and foreign sellers. See, e.g., Hunt v. Washington Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333 (1977). Here, Maryland was not making an impermissible distinction between in-state and out-of-state gasoline producers. All gasoline sold in the state comes from foreign producers. Exxon argues that the statute nevertheless protects in-state independent retailers against competition from outsiders. This argument fails, because there are many out-of-state retailers operating in Maryland who are unaffected by the statute, because they do not produce or refine oil. Thus, in-state retailers will get no competitive advantage. Further, there is no evidence that the regulation will unduly burden interstate commerce. Even if some suppliers pull out of the state, consumers will still be able to get oil products from independent dealers who use other suppliers. The Commerce Clause does not guarantee that existing market structures will not be changed by state regulation. Next, even though there is a countrywide market for oil, the Commerce Clause does not require that the field be preempted from state regulation. There has been no showing of congressional intent to preempt state regulation in the area. Lastly, there is no merit to the claim that existing federal statutory law preempts the field from state regulation. Exxon's substantive due process claims fail, because the statute has a reasonable relationship to Maryland's interest in controlling the oil market. Therefore, Maryland's statute is constitutional.
Proof of either a discriminatory effect or discriminatory purpose may determine whether a statute is economic protectionism. Clover Leaf argues that the Minnesota law is per se invalid because of its discriminatory purpose. However, the law's regulations are applied even-handedly to interstate and local commerce. The key inquiry is whether the incidental burden the statute imposes on interstate commerce is clearly excessive in relation to the local benefits it confers on Minnesota businesses. The burden imposed on interstate commerce is relatively minor. The statute permits all milk products to freely move across state lines, and most milk manufacturers already produce both plastic and paperboard containers. Thus, dairies are not required to invest significant money to comply with Minnesota law. Additionally, out-of-state interests are not the only ones burdened, as many of the businesses challenging the statute are Minnesota companies. Although the only pulpwood producers receiving a benefit from the statute are located in Minnesota, and the only plastic producers being burdened by the statute are outside Minnesota, the burden is not clearly excessive in relation to the benefit Minnesota businesses would receive, and the substantial state interests in reducing solid waste and conserving the environment. Finally, there are no apparent approaches with a lesser impact on interstate activities that satisfy the state interests at stake. The statute is a valid exercise of state regulatory power because it passes Commerce Clause analysis.
The previous decision in Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525 (1923), makes it unconstitutional for states to set minimum wage laws. However, changing social and economic circumstances since that decision warrant a fresh consideration of the issue. The liberty interest asserted by West Coast is that of freedom to contract, but this freedom is not expressly found in the Constitution. Rather, the Constitution, through its Fourteenth Amendment, clearly outlines the liberty interest of freedom from actions which attack an individual's health, safety, or general welfare. Thus, all asserted liberty interests are ultimately restrained by the health, safety, and general welfare interests that comprise due process. Applying this principle, the prior decision in Adkins is an improper application of the constitutional due process provisions that govern states' regulation of the relationship between employers and employees. States pass minimum wage laws designed to promote the health and safety of female employees, and this regulation thus embodies principles of due process. To hold that states cannot regulate in this way would be to deny due process constraints on a state's freedom to contract, and to deny protections for the health and safety of women. Additionally, changing economic times mean that workers who are not paid a living wage would have to rely on taxpayers for the care of their various needs. This is an unprecedented problem because the United States is currently in the middle of the "Great Depression." Thus, more workers than ever are seeking community assistance, which leads to an impermissible burden on taxpayers. Washington's minimum wage law is upheld because it promotes the health and safety of women, and because requiring employers to pay a living wage alleviates the burden on taxpayers of having to care for underpaid employees.
Historically, women have had a greater right to terminate their pregnancies than they currently enjoy. There are three reasons for the gradual increase in strictness in anti-abortion laws. Firstly, decreasing the availability of abortion is seen as a way to decrease illicit sexual activity. Secondly, concerns over the safety of abortion procedures prompted a decrease in its prevalence to protect the health of women. Finally, states increasingly note their own interest or duty in protecting prenatal life. The Court must analyze the right of women to obtain abortions against the backdrop of these countervailing state interests. The Constitution does not explicitly mention a right to personal privacy, but such a right is implied from various aspects of the Bill of Rights. The "zone of privacy" implied in the Constitution is broad enough to encompass a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. However, this holding is qualified by noting that the right is not unlimited and must be considered against important state interests in regulation. Regulation limiting a "fundamental right" of privacy must be justified by a compelling state interest, and legislative enactments must be narrowly tailored to further that interest. Applying this test to the abortion issue, a woman's privacy interest outweighs any countervailing state interests during the first part of her pregnancy when abortion is deemed relatively safe and when the fetus is very early in its development. However, at some point in the pregnancy, the potential dangers to the mother of a later abortion and the increased development of the fetus as a potential person outweigh the right of the mother to privacy. Thus, state interests grow in substantiality as the woman approaches term and, at a certain point during pregnancy, became compelling enough to override her general right to privacy. With respect to the state's interest in protecting the health of the mother, the interest becomes compelling at approximately the end of the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), when performance of an abortion becomes increasingly risky. A state's interest in protecting potential life becomes compelling at viability, or whenever the fetus is capable of a meaningful life outside the mother's womb. A state can prohibit abortion after viability, except when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. Measured against these standards, Article 1196 of the Texas Penal Code overly restricts abortions in allowing them only when necessary to save the life of the mother.
The holding of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is reaffirmed. In Roe the Court held: (1) a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the state; (2) a state may restrict abortions after fetal viability as long as it passes a law that exempts pregnancies that endanger the woman's life or health; and (3) a state has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus. Stare decisis operates as a governing principle in nearly all of the Court's decisions. Precedent holdings should be overturned only if changing circumstances render the established rules unworkable. Although Roe has engendered opposition, it has in no sense proven unworkable in its limitations of state restrictions on abortion. Although medical advances have moved the moment of viability for a fetus to an earlier date, the central holding of Roe remains relevant. However, some changes to the contours of Roe's application are necessary. Hence the trimester framework established in Roe is overruled. This structure creates overly rigid rules for defining states' and women's interests in the abortion debate. It is improper to completely prohibit a state from regulating abortion before the end of the first trimester. Before the first trimester ends, a state can constitutionally issue reasonable regulations for abortion to help ensure that women are properly informed about their decision to abort. Based on this principle, some of Pennsylvania's restrictions in the present case can be upheld as constitutional regulations on abortion designed to help women make informed and rational choices. Instead of adhering to the trimester framework for judging the constitutionality of such regulations, a new undue burden test is hereby created for determining whether a regulation impermissibly interferes with a woman's right to an abortion. An undue burden exists if its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability. Applying this new standard to the Pennsylvania statute, the spousal notification requirement constitutes an undue burden, according too much power to a husband over his wife, and is therefore invalid. However, the informed consent, parental notification, and 24-hour waiting period restrictions do not constitute an undue burden and are upheld.
The CEC argued that its housing ordinance should be sustained based on the Court's previous decision in Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1 (1974), where a housing ordinance limiting occupancy in single residences was sustained because it bore a rational relationship to permissible state objectives. However, the present case is distinguishable from Belle Terre because the Belle Terre ordinance expressly allowed all who were related by "blood, adoption, or marriage" to live together. It prevented only unrelated individuals from living together, while the CEC ordinance limits blood relatives from living together. When a city attempts such an intrusive regulation of family as that present in the CEC ordinance, its decision to do so is examined under strict scrutiny. Thus, it must be determined whether the housing ordinance is necessary for the achievement of an important government objective. CEC seeks to justify its ordinance as a means of preventing overcrowding, minimizing traffic and parking congestion, and avoiding an undue financial burden on the CEC's public school system. While these are all legitimate public purposes, the housing ordinance serves them only marginally and is not necessary to their accomplishment. The right of family members to live together is fundamental and protected by the Constitution. The CEC's argument that this right extends only to nuclear family members is rejected. The tradition of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents sharing a household along with parents and children has strong historical roots and is worthy of constitutional recognition. The CEC's housing ordinance improperly limits this right, and is therefore unconstitutional.
The Constitution does not provide a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, none of this Court's previous cases have determined that the Constitution provides a right of privacy that extends to homosexual sodomy. The kinds of rights that deserve heightened protection despite not being expressly identified in the Constitution are those fundamental liberties that are "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" or "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition." Sodomy was a criminal act under the common law, under the laws of the thirteen states ratifying the Bill of Rights, under the laws of all but five of the states at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, under the laws of all 50 states in 1961, and today under the laws of 24 states and the District of Columbia. Homosexual sodomy is neither "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" nor "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition." The Court must resist expanding the reach of the Due Process Clause and redefining the category of fundamental rights. The Court's previous holding that the First Amendment permits the reading of obscene material in the privacy of a person's home was supported by the text of the First Amendment, whereas a right to homosexual sodomy is not similarly supported by the text of the Constitution. The limits on extending a right to privacy to homosexual acts within the home are not easily defined, since other criminal acts are not immunized simply because they occur within the home. It would likewise be difficult to limit the right to voluntary sexual acts between consenting adults, as this would leave open the question of adultery, incest, and other sexual crimes that might occur in the home. Finally, the law at issue passes rational basis scrutiny, because it is based on notions of morality.
The liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual conduct. In Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), the Court upheld a Georgia statute prohibiting private, consensual sodomy between both homosexual and heterosexual couples. However, the Texas statute at issue prohibits such conduct only between homosexual couples. The Court in Bowers mistakenly framed the issue as whether the Constitution supports a fundamental right of homosexuals to engage in sodomy. This inquiry was insensitive to the true extent of the liberty interests at stake involving the right of homosexuals not only to perform sexual acts but also to engage in intimate personal relationships. Ruling that states may constitutionally prohibit homosexual sodomy is in effect the same as ruling that homosexual relationships are themselves unlawful. Such a determination would impinge upon the fundamental right of homosexuals to engage in intimate personal and familial relationships. Additionally, there is no longstanding history in America of laws directed at prohibiting homosexual conduct as a distinct matter. This is partly due to the difficulty of enforcing legal punishments of consenting adults engaging in private sexual behavior. Thus, the Bowers Court's reliance on historical traditions prohibiting homosexual activity was largely overstated and likely was based on the moral and religious preferences of the individual justices. Other nations have done away with statutes criminalizing homosexual sodomy. Finally, most states that have laws prohibiting homosexual conduct largely do not prosecute individuals for engaging in such conduct. This reflects increasing legal and social acceptance of homosexual behavior and the right to privacy in consensual conduct between adults. The Court's recent decisions in cases such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), and Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 160 (1996), further evidence this trend. The liberty protected by substantive due process encompasses the right of consenting adults to engage in homosexual activity. Striking the statute down under the Equal Protection Clause would suggest that a prohibition of sodomy by anyone would be constitutional; it would not. In this case, the defendant's activity is protected by the Due Process Clause. The principle announced in Bowers prohibiting private homosexual activity between consenting adults is unconstitutional and explicitly overturned.
The Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of procedural due process applies to the deprivation of individual liberty and property interests by the state. This guarantee is necessary because distinctions between "rights" and "privileges" that once governed the applicability of procedural due process rights were fully abolished in National Mutual Insurance Company v. Tidewater Transfer Company, 337 U.S. 582 (1949). Additionally, due process protects property beyond the actual ownership of real estate, and protects against deprivations of liberty beyond the sort of formal constraints imposed by the criminal process. Roth claims he was deprived of a "liberty" interest. The range of liberty interests protected by the Fourteenth Amendment include the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry and raise children, and to freely practice religion. The constitutional meaning of "liberty" is very broad. While under this broad view there might be some instances in which a state's refusal to re-employ a person might implicate that person's liberty interests, this case is not one of these instances. The state, in declining to re-hire Roth, does not make any charge against him that might seriously damage his standing and associations in his community. Additionally, the state does not impose on Roth a stigma or other disability that forecloses his freedom to take advantage of other employment opportunities. It would impermissibly stretch the concept of Fourteenth Amendment protections to suggest that a person is deprived of "liberty" when he simply is not rehired in one job but remains free to seek another. Additionally, Roth claims that he is deprived of a "property" interest. The Fourteenth Amendment's procedural protection of property is a safeguard of the security of interests that a person has already acquired in specific benefits. These interests can take many forms. Thus, to have a property interest in a benefit, a person must clearly have more than a unilateral expectation, but instead have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. Roth's "property" interest in his employment at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh was created and defined by the terms of his appointment. Those terms specifically provided that his employment would terminate at the end of one year, and make no provision for renewal whatsoever. Based on the terms of his contract, Roth has absolutely no "property" interest in or claim of entitlement to reemployment for an additional year. Roth's interest is merely abstract and not protected by procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.