Friday, November 20, 2009

Outline: Constitutional Law I - Government - II - Jurisdiction

Constitutional Law I - Government (Spring 2006, Burcham)


  1. State Court Decisions [Martin v. Hunter's Lessee - State courts may not refuse to implement Supreme Court interpretations of law of the land including treaties]
    1. 28 USC 1257 Bridge
      1. Final decision from highest court of state in which decision could be had (e.g., if state supreme court denies review of a state appellate court decision, appellate decision is final decision from the highest court that can review)
      2. Federal question [28 USC 1331]
    2. Adequate and Independent Grounds
      1. Adequate
        1. Avoid advisory opinions
          1. Murdoch v. Memphis - Supreme Court will not review state interpretations of state constitution
          2. Supreme Court will not review state decisions granting more rights than federal Constitution
        2. Procedural
          1. Does not deny due process
          2. Advances legitimate state interest
          3. Applied consistently
        3. Substantive
          1. State decision fully supports decision
          2. No interference with Constitution, federal law, or treaty
      2. Independent - State decision not based on understanding of federal law [Michigan v. Long – States should use “plain statement” of grounds for decision; where ambiguous, assume federal grounds, reviewable by Supreme Court]
  2. Federal Court Decisions
    1. Cause of Action [42 USC 1983 - Civil Rights]
      1. any person
      2. acting under color of state law
      3. and deprives one of federally guaranteed rights
      4. (federal officials are sued directly under the Constitution)
    2. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
      1. 28 USC 1331 – Federal Question
      2. 28 USC 1332 - Diversity
      3. 28 USC 1343(a)(3) – Designer statute for 1983
    3. 11th Amendment
      1. Sovereign Immunity [Hans v. Louisiana] – States may not be sued directly unless Congress abrogates immunity under 11th Amendment; complete abrogation allows suit for money damages.
        1. Abrogation
          1. unmistakably clear language
          2. must act under 14th Amendment § 5 [Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida – Legislation under Indian Commerce Clause does not abrogate sovereign immunity under 11th Amendment]
        2. Cities, municipalities, counties, may be sued directly
      2. Stripping Doctrine – State officials may not be sued unless they can be stripped of “state garb” [Ex parte Young]
        1. action violates federal law [Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman – 11th Amendment bars federal injunctive relief against state officials on basis of state law]; and
        2. prospective, injunctive relief only (no payment from state treasury except attorney’s fees), unless plaintiff can overcome official’s personal immunity, in which case, official is personally liable for money damages
          1. qualified good faith - state officials immune unless reasonably knew or should have known action would violate federal law
          2. absolute - court officials and legislators immune
    4. Justiciability (see next section)

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