Virginia Bar Exam Blog
Saturday, July 15, 2006
  CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Strict Scrutiny à Must be necessary to achieve a compelling gov’t purpose
Intermediate Scrutiny à Must be substantially related to an important gov’t purpose
Rational Basis à Must be rationally related to some legitimate gov’t purpose

THE JUDICIAL POWER – HEARING JUSTICIABLE CASES
ADVISORY OPINIONS
A federal court may not render an advisory opinion. There must be specific present harm or threat of specific future harm.
Parties must show:
i. they have engaged in, or wish to engage in, specific conduct,
ii. and that the challenged action poses a real and immediate danger to their interests.
RIPENESS
A case is not yet ripe if there is no immediate threat of harm.
MOOTNESS
A case is moot if there is no longer any immediate threat of harm.
i. Exception:
1. Controversies capable of repetition, yet evading review, are not moot.
2. Class actions – if issue becomes moot as to class representative, the class action can still continue if other members’ claims are still viable.
STANDING
A person must have a concrete stake in the outcome of the case to have standing.
i. Elements:
1. Injury
a. She has been or will be directly and personally injured by the allegedly unlawful gov’t action. Injury need not be economic.
2. Casuation
a. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of.
3. Redressability
a. A decision in the litigant’s favor must be capable of eliminating the harm.
Common standing issues
i. Standing to enforce gov’t statutes
1. Available only if P is within the “zone of interests” Congress meant to protect.
ii. Third-party standing to assert the rights of others
1. Available only when:
a. It is difficult for the third party to assert her own rights OR
b. A special relationship exists (i.e. doctor-patient)
iii. No Taxpayer or Citizen standing
1. A person cannot get standing merely as a taxpayer or citizen of the U.S. à interest too remote.
2. Exception: A taxpayer can challenge taxing and spending measures on First Amendment Establishment Clause grounds (spending to establish religion)
a. SPENDING power must be involved – not giving surplus property to a religious group.
ADEQUATE AND INDEPENDENT STATE GROUNDS
The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal if the decision rested on adequate and independent state law grounds, even if federal issues are involved.
ABSTENTION
Unsettled question of state law
i. A federal court will allow states to interpret their own laws first
Pending state proceedings
i. Federal courts will not enjoin pending state criminal proceedings (and in some cases pending civil proceedings involving an important state interest).
POLITICAL QUESTIONS
Criteria for whether it’s a political question:
i. A “textually demonstrable” constitutional commitment of the issue to the political braches
ii. Lack of manageable standards for judicial resolution
iii. A need for finality in the action of the political branches
iv. Difficulty or impossibility of devising effective judicial remedies
Typical cases that ARE political questions:
i. “Republican Form of Gov’t” clause of Art. IV
ii. Challenges to congressional procedures
iii. President’s conduct of foreign policy
Typically NOT political questions:
i. Legislative apportionment
ii. Arbitrary exclusion of a congressional delegate
iii. Production of presidential papers and communications
ELEVENTH AMENDMENT
Federal courts may not hear a private party’s claims against a state government.
i. Exceptions:
1. D state consents
2. Actions against state officers for injunctions or personal damages, but not damages that will come out of state coffers.
Does not bar suits against county or city gov’ts.
United States gov’t may sue a state w/o its consent – BUT a state may not sue the US gov’t.
State gov’ts may sue each other.

THE LEGISLATIVE POWER
SOURCES OF POWER
COMMERCE CLAUSE
i. Congress has the exclusive power to regulate all foreign and interstate commerce.
ii. Can regulate anything that has a “substantial effect” on interstate commerce.
SPENDING
i. Congress may spend for any public purpose à “for the common defense and general welfare.”
TAXING
i. For tax to be valid, must bear some reasonable relationship to revenue production – can’t be a veiled attempt to regulate.
WAR
i. Power to declare war extends to economic regulations in the postwar period to avoid wartime disruptions.
ii. Can raise armies, create military tribunals
INVESTIGATORY POWER
i. Congress can investigate anything it has power to legislate over.
PROPERTY POWER
i. Congress has power over the properties of the U.S.(including Washington D.C.)
ii. Congress can also take property for public use (eminent domain)
CITIZENSHIP
i. Congress can establish uniform rules of naturalization.
POWER TO OUTLAW BADGES OF SLAVERY
i. 13th Amend – so can outlaw private action discriminating against blacks
NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE
Power to make all laws “necessary and proper” to carrying out its enumerated powers.

THE EXECUTIVE POWER
DOMESTIC POWERS
Appoint all ambassadors, consuls, and Supreme Court justices w/ Senate approval
Right to remove all high-level, purely executive officers
i. BUT Congress may limit President’s power to remove all other appointees (cannot be absolute bar, but can be for cause)
Right to pardon for federal crimes
Veto acts of congress (can be overriden by 2/3 vote of each house)
EXECUTIVE ORDERS
Most likely to be valid if with consent of Congress
If against express will of Congress – may be invalid as violating separation of powers
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Pres cannot declare war, but can deploy armies
Pres has supreme power to represent the U.S. in foreign relations.
Power to enter into treaties w/consent of 2/3 of the Senate.
Executive agreements = agreements btwn Pres and a foreign head of state
i. Need not get consent of Senate
ii. Can be used for any purpose that treaties can be used for

STATE v. FEDERAL SYSTEM
1. PREEMPTION
a. If a state law conflicts with a federal law, the state law is invalid.
b. If there is not a federal law on point, but the state law prevents achievement of a federal objective, it will be invalidated.
c. If there is not a federal law on point, but if Congress intended to “occupy the field,” the state law will be invalidated.
i. Factors showing intent to occupy the field:
1. Comprehensive federal scheme
2. Creation of an agency to administer the laws
3. Historically federally-regulated subject matter
4. Need for uniform national regulation
2. INTERSTATE COMPACT CLAUSE
a. If states make an agreement that increases their power at the expense of federal power (banding together) it must get congressional approval.
3. TAXATION/REGULATION ISSUES
a. Federal taxation/regulation of state entities
i. Valid if applies to both public and private sector (i.e. minimum wage laws)
ii. Invalid if applied ONLY to state activity – violates 10th Amendment (i.e. forcing states to take title to nuclear waste)
1. Exception: Civil rights
2. Exception: Conditions on federal grants, if state has option to accept or decline the $$$
iii. States may not commandeer state officials to enforce federal laws (gun law case)
b. State taxation of federal gov’t
i. Nondiscriminatory, indirect taxes are permissible if they do not unreasonably burden the federal gov’t (i.e. state tax on federal workers’ wages)
ii. States may not regulate federal workers while performing their federal functions.
4. PRIVILEGES & IMMUNITIES CLAUSE, ART. IV AND 14TH AMENDMENT
a. Difference:
i. Art IV – prohibits discrimination by a state against non-residents.
ii. 14th Amend – states may not deny their citizens privileges & immunities of national citizenship (i.e. right to travel)
b. Corporations and aliens not protected here
c. Only “fundamental liberties” are protected:
i. Civil liberties
ii. Right to earn a livelihood (commercial activity)
d. A law that discriminates against out of staters may be valid if:
i. The state has a substantial justification for the different treatment, AND
ii. There are no less restrictive means to solve the problem.
iii. NOTE: Protecting in-staters’s interest is not a justifiable reason.
5. DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE
a. A state may not discriminate against or unduly burden interstate commerce.
b. To be valid, a state regulation that substantially affects interstate commerce:
i. Must pursue a legitimate end,
ii. Must be rationally related to that legitimate end,
iii. And the regulatory burden imposed by the state on interstate commerce, and any discrimination against interstate commerce, must be outweighed by the state’s interest in enforcing the regulation.
iv. NOTE: If no substantial effect, no need to apply this test à law is valid.
c. For laws that discriminate against out of staters:
i. Law will be invalid UNLESS
ii. It furthers an important, noneconomic state interest AND
iii. There are no reasonable, nondiscriminatory alternatives, OR
iv. The state is a market participant.
d. For laws that treat in-staters and out-of-staters alike, but which burden interstate commerce (truck tires):
i. Will be valid UNLESS
ii. The burden outweighs the promotion of a legitimate state interest, AND
iii. There are no less restrictive alternatives available.
e. A TAX that affects interstate commerce will be valid IF:
i. There is a substantial nexus to the taxing state (significant or substantial activity in the taxing state) AND
ii. The tax is fairly apportioned according to a rational formula, AND
iii. The tax is fairly related to the services or benefits provided by the state.
f. Commodities in interstate transit may NOT be taxed along the way, except for when they start and where they begin.
i. Instrumentalities of interstate commerce (trucks, planes) may be taxed if:
1. They have a taxable situs in the state (like an airline hangar) AND
2. The tax is fairly apportioned (big users pay more than small users).

INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
1. SOURCES
a. 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states
b. The 13th Amendment prevents badges of slavery and involuntary servitude
c. The 14th Amendment prevents states from depriving any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
d. 15th Amendment prevents both federal and state gov’ts from denying a citizen the right to vote b/c of race.
e. Sec. 5 of the 14th Amendment gives congress the power to adopt appropriate regislation to enforce rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
f. Under the Commerce Clause, Congress can prohibit private racial discrimination that might have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
g. Congress also has inherent power to protect the rights of nat’l citizenship.
2. STATE ACTION – ANALYZE FIRST
a. There will be state action if:
i. The entity is performing a traditionally exclusive public function (even if the state itself is not doing it) OR
ii. The state affirmatively facilitates, encourages, or authorizes acts of discrimination by its citizens.
3. SPEECH
a. PRIOR RESTRAINT ON SPEECH
i. Heavy burden to justify
ii. Must show that some special societal harm will result w/o the prior restraint.
iii. Any system for allowing prior restraints must:
1. Have standards that are narrowly drawn, reasonable, and definite AND
2. Injunction must promptly be sought, AND
3. There must be prompt and final determination of the validity of the restraint.
b. VAGUENESS OR OVERBREADTH
i. If a regulation punishes a substantial amount of protected speech in addition to its plainly legitimate sweep it is invalid as overbroad.
1. If the regulation is not substantially overbroad, it can be enforced against persons engaging in activities that are NOT constitutionally protected.
ii. If a reasonable person could not tell what speech is prohibited and what is not, it is unconstitutionally vague.
1. This is also the case with laws that give unfettered discretion to officials in applying them.
c. CONTENT-NEUTRAL REGULATION
i. Content neutral regulations must:
1. Advance important interests unrelated to the suppression of speech AND
2. must not burden substantially more speech than necessary to further those interests.
d. TIME, PLACE, MANNER RESTRICTIONS
i. For public forums, must be:
1. Content-neutral,
2. Are narrowly-tailored to serve an important gov’t interest, AND
3. Leave open alternative channels of communications.
ii. For non-public, gov’t-owned forums, must be:
1. Viewpoint-neutral AND
2. Reasonably related to a legitimate gov’t purpose.
e. COMMERCIAL SPEECH
i. Commercial speech is covered by the 1st Amend, but may be regulated if the regulation:
1. Directly advances
2. A substantial gov’t interest
3. In a way that is reasonably tailored to achieve that objective.
ii. BUT if it proposes unlawful activity or is fraudulent, no protection
f. SYMBOLIC ACTS AS SPEECH
i. Can be regulated if:
1. Gov’t has an important interest in the regulation independent of the speech aspects AND
2. The incidental burden on speech is no greater than necessary.
g. CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AS SPEECH
i. Gov’t can limit election campaign contributions IF:
1. The rules are closely drawn to match a “sufficiently important interest.”
ii. Laws may limit donations to a political candidate BUT not donations to supporting a political issue (i.e. ballot referendum).
iii. Laws may not limit the amount a candidate or group can spend on a campaign.
h. SPEECH THAT DOESN’T GET 1ST AMEND PROTECTION
i. Fraudulent/misrepresentational commercial speech
ii. Commercial speech that proposes an unlawful activity
iii. Speech that creates a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action
1. Must show that imminent illegal conduct is LIKELY and
2. that the speaker INTENDED to cause it.
iv. Fighting words
1. Personally abusive words that are likely to incite imminent physical retaliation in an average person
2. BUT can’t punish only fighting words of a certain viewpoint (i.e. insults on the bases of race)
v. Obscenity
1. Appeals to the prurient interest in sex, using a local standard,
2. Is patently offensive and an affront to contemporary local standards AND
3. Lacks serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value, using a nat’l reasonable person standard.
vi. Non-obscene, adult material as to children
1. Gov’t can’t completely ban non-obscene material b/c children might get it, BUT can restrict sale to children.
2. Also, can completely ban child porn even though not obscene.
vii. Liquor-related ads
1. Under the 21st Amend, states have broad power to regulate liquor. Regs in this area usually set aside only if irrational.
4. FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
a. Infringement of this right is OK if:
i. It is justified by a compelling state interest, unrelated to the suppression of ideas, AND
ii. It’s the least restrictive means of achieving that interest.
b. Loyalty oaths
i. OK if they are not overbroad or vague:
1. Promise not to advocate overthrow of the gov’t is too vague
2. Promise not to advocate UNLAWFUL overthrow of the gov’t is NOT too vague
c. Restrictions on behavior of gov’t employees
i. Can prohibit them from taking an active part in political campaigns
ii. Cannot fire them for belonging to a political party (except where it’s relevant, i.e. working for a political campaign).
d. Disclosure of membership lists
i. Gov’t cannot force disclosure of every member in exchange for a gov’t benefit.
5. RIGHT TO PROPERTY – TAKINGS CLAUSE (5TH AMEND)
a. Allows gov’t to take private property for public use, if just compensation is paid.
i. Public use = rationally related to a legitimate public purpose
b. Taking vs. merely burdening w/ regulation
i. An actual, physical appropriation or physical invasion is almost always a taking.
ii. Use restrictions that deny ALL economic use of the land are a taking.
iii. Regulations that merely decrease the value of property may or may not be a taking, the court will apply a 3-part balancing test:
1. The social goals to be promoted
2. The diminution in value to the owner
3. The owner’s reasonable expectations regarding the property
c. If there is a taking, the gov’t must pay FMV as determined by the loss to the owner, not the gain to the gov’t.
6. RELIGION
a. ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE
i. Prevents gov’t from preferring one religion over another UNLESS:
1. It is narrowly tailored
2. To promote a compelling interest (interest almost never compelling)
ii. Gov’t religious displays or other endorsements of religion are OK ONLY if it:
1. Has a secular purpose,
2. Has a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, AND
3. Does not produce excessive gov’t entanglement w/ religion.
iii. Grants to religious schools
1. The Court will apply the 3-part test above more strictly if the school involved is a grade or high school, than colleges etc.
b. FREE EXERCISE CLAUSE
i. This clause prevents the state from punishing someone on the basis of religion.
ii. Cannot deny benefits or impose a burden based on religion absent a compelling interest – BUT the Supreme Court has NEVER found an interest to be compelling enough.
iii. Laws of general application can be applied to religious people UNLESS it was specifically designed to interfere with religion (goat sacrifice v. peyote).
1. No requirement that they be given exemptions.
iv. Gov’t cannot deny unemployment benefits to people who are forced to quit their jobs for religious reasons.
7. RETROACTIVE LEGISLATION
a. IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACT
i. Only stop states from enacting a law that substantially impairs contracts already in existence – feds aren’t bound by this.
b. EX POST FACTO LAWS
i. A state cannot retroactively change criminal laws if it:
1. Makes criminal an act that was innocent when done
2. Prescribes greater punishment than when the act was done
3. Reduces the evidence required to convict a person from when the act was done
c. BILLS OF ATTAINDER
i. A legislative order to criminally punish someone (without a trial)
8. EQUAL PROTECTION
Remember! Equal Protection only limits STATE action… but grossly unreasonable discrimination by the FEDERAL gov’t may violate Due Process.
a. CLASSIFICATION OR FUNDAMENTAL INTEREST
i. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
1. Burdens a fundamental right for some but not others à Strict Scrutiny
a. If it burdens a fundamental right for EVERYONE it’s a substantive due process problem (still strict scrutiny).
2. Fundamental rights:
a. Right to interstate travel
i. Includes right to be treated equally after moving to a new state
b. Right to vote
i. Residency requirements of 30 days of less are OK
ii. Requirement of property ownership usually not OK (except water dist. Etc.)
iii. Restrictions on right to get on ballot à Must be a reasonable, nondiscriminatory means of promoting important state interests.
c. Right to privacy
i. Marriage
ii. Use of contraceptives
iii. Abortion
iv. Sexual relations
v. Right to raise one’s children a certain way
vi. Right to read obscene material in one’s home
3. Special rules for abortion:
a. Pre-viability à No undue burden on right to abortion
b. Post-viability à May prohibit abortion unless woman’s life is threatened
ii. CLASSIFICATION
1. Suspect classà Strict scrutiny
a. Race
b. National Origin
c. Legal aliens
i. EXCEPTION: participation in gov’tal processes/public policy (cops, teachers)
2. Quasi-suspect à Intermediate scrutiny
a. Gender (gov’t must also show an exceedingly persuasive justification for the law)
b. Legitimacy
c. Education for illegal alien children
3. Other classes à rational basis
a. National origin IF issue is participation in gov’tal processes
b. Illegal aliens
c. Age
d. Disability
e. Wealth
b. SCRUTINY
i. Strict scrutiny à necessary for a compelling gov’t interest, least restrictive means
ii. Intermediate Scrutiny à substantially related to an important gov’t purpose
iii. Rational basis à rationally related to some legitimate gov’t purpose
c. To get strict scrutiny based on discrimination based on a suspect class or quasi-suspect class, INTENT to discriminate MUST be shown by:
i. Discriminatory intent on the face of the law OR
ii. Discriminatory application of a law that is facially neutral OR
iii. A discriminatory motive behind the law.
iv. A law that merely happens to have an unintentional, discriminatory effect does NOT count as intent!!
d. Remember – affirmative action gets strict scrutiny BUT the state’s interest in remedying particular, specific instances of past discrimination is “compelling.”
e. Federal alienage classifications are NOT subject to strict scrutiny, need only NOT be arbitrary and unreasonable.
9. PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS
a. LIFE, LIBERTY OR PROPERTY INTEREST
i. Must be some legitimate claim or “entitlement” to the benefit to make it a property right
b. LEVEL OF PROCESS DUE
i. Three part balancing test:
1. The importance of the interest to the individual,
2. The value of specific procedural safeguards to that interest,
3. The government interest in fiscal and administrative efficiency.
10. SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS
a. Burdens a fundamental right for EVERYONE à substantive due process à strict scrutiny
i. Burdens a fundamental right for some but not others à Equal protection problem à still strict scrutiny.
b. Fundamental rights:
i. Right to interstate travel
1. Includes right to be treated equally after moving to a new state
ii. Right to vote
1. Residency requirements of 30 days of less are OK
2. Requirement of property ownership usually not OK (except water dist. etc.)
3. Restrictions on right to get on ballot à Must be a reasonable, nondiscriminatory means of promoting important state interests.
iii. Right to privacy
1. Marriage
2. Use of contraceptives
3. Abortion
4. Sexual relations
5. Right to raise one’s children a certain way
6. Right to read obscene material in one’s home
c. Special rules for abortion:
i. Pre-viability à No undue burden on right to abortion
ii. Post-viability à May prohibit abortion unless woman’s life is threatened
 
Comments: Post a Comment



<< Home
This is a blog for people serious about taking the Virginia bar exam... Emotional and study support system.

Name:
Location: New York, New York, United States
ARCHIVES
May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 /


Powered by Blogger