United States Law/Constitutional

Course Introduction Edit

This course will be an introduction to constitutional law. It will cover the following subjects:

  • The structure of the United States government, and the powers granted to it by the Constitution.
  • The relationship between the states and the federal government (also known as federalism).
  • The role of the judiciary, and the power of judicial review.

This course is a pre-requisite to other constitutional law courses: Constitutional Law II, which will cover individual rights protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and Criminal Procedure, which will cover the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.

Week 1: Introduction Edit

Orientation Edit

Use highlighters in the following fashion.

  1. Facts Green
  2. Rationale Yellow
  3. Holding Red
  4. Blue important precedents
  5. Orange dissenting opinions

The Constitutional Structure of American Government Edit

Assignment Edit

1. Read the Constitution of the United States.

2. Read the Wikipedia article on Constitution.

3. Read Federalist Paper Number 10

4. Read Federalist Paper Number 51

5. Write a brief statement, approximately 250 words, expressing a reaction to either Federalist Number 10 or Federalist Number 51.

Discussion Edit

Week 2: Introduction to Judicial Review Edit

The Basics of Judicial Review Edit

Assignment Edit

1. Read Federalist Paper Number 78.

2. Read the following cases and brief them in the IRAC format. Make sure you read both the case syllabus and the opinion of the court.

3. Compare your outline with the following.

4.Read the Wikipedia article on Marbury v. Madison

Discussion Edit

When the Supreme Court sees a conflict between the constitution and congressional statue, the Court has the authority to review and declare it unconstitutional. The rationale is that the Congress is not the only one who reviews the constitutionality of the laws. One of the functions of the judiciary is to say what the law is serving the role of the ultimate interpreter. However, this has been subject to some criticism, as the Constitution does not explicitly provide the Supreme Court this power.

Questions Edit
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Federalist Papers
  • Chief Justice Marshall

Week 3: Constraints on Judicial Power Edit

Ex parte McCardle Edit

Assignment Edit

1.Read the following cases and brief them in the IRAC format. Make sure you read both the case syllabus and the opinion of the court.

2.Compare your outline with the following.

3.Read the Wikipedia article on Ex parte McCardle

Discussion Edit

This case is about congressional limits. The Constitution gives Congress the express power to make excpetions to the appellate jurisdiction. Art. III, § 2 states that the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is subject to “such exceptions and conditions as Congress shall make”, thus Congress may limit the appellate jurisdiction (in a broadest interpretation).

Questions Edit

Mootness Edit

Assignment Edit

1. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services 528 U.S. 167 (2000)

Advisory Opinions Edit

Assignment Edit

Discussion Edit
Questions Edit

Ripeness Edit

Assignment Edit

Discussion Edit
Questions Edit

Political Question Doctrine Edit

Assignment Edit

Discussion Edit
Questions Edit

Standing Edit

Assignment Edit

1. Standing: Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

Discussion Edit
Questions Edit

Week 4: Scope of Federal Power Edit

Federal Legislative Powers Edit

Federal Executive Powers Edit

Week 5: The States Edit

Pre-Emption Edit

The Dormant Commerce Clause Edit

The Privileges and Immunities Clause Edit

Assignments Edit

1. Read excerpt from Corfield v. Coryell on Wikipedia