Friday, November 20, 2009

Outline: Constitutional Law I - Government - III - Justiciability

Constitutional Law I - Government (Spring 2006, Burcham)


  1. Standing (this is the most litigated element; court often invokes standing to duck controversial issues)
    1. Elements [Warth v. Seldin]
      1. Injury in fact (Article III Cases and Controversies)
        1. Does plaintiff have strong enough case? [Warth v. Seldin – Plaintiff who fits profile of those who may have been hurt by allegedly discriminatory zoning ordinances, but who has not been harmed or denied relief, cannot sue town for those ordinances]
        2. Is the claim one the court can fix?
        3. Associations (Equal Protection Clause does not apply) [Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.]:
          1. individual members would have standing
          2. relief would benefit individual members, but not necessary for individual members to be in court (e.g., anti-trust class action)
      2. Causation/redressability
        1. Causation - Is the statute or action the cause of the injury?
        2. Redressability - If the plaintiff wins, will his injuries be redressed?
      3. Asserting own rights (see Third-Party Standing for exceptions)
      4. No generalized grievances
        1. If an injury is general, legislature may be better venue
        2. Some grievances may be so general as to cease being injury in fact [Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife]
    2. Third Party Standing [Craig v. Boren - 3.2% beer]
      1. Litigant is injured (vendor economically injured)


      2. Special relationship between litigant and third party whose rights are asserted; or
      3. Things keep mooting third party’s standing (pace of litigation always moots case because litigants turn 21)
    3. Taxpayer Standing – Standing to challenge Congressional action established only when [Flast v. Cohen]:
      1. Challenge to Congress’ spending power; and
      2. Allegation that spending violates Establishment Clause [Valley Forge]

        Establishment of these elements satisfies injury, causation, grievance requirements.

      3. Cases
        1. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife – Allegation that Executive fails to execute laws too generalized to be injury in fact.
        2. Raines v. Byrd – Line Item Veto does not in fact personally injure legislator that voted against it.
        3. FEC v. Akins – Informational injury to right to vote is not a generalized grievance, but injury in fact.
  2. Mootness
    1. DeFunis v. Odegaard – Plaintiff challenging law school’s admission standards who has been allowed to enroll during litigation does not have a live case, and, plaintiff being about to graduate, case is moot.
    2. Exception – Capable of Repetition Yet Evading Review
      1. Simple cases
        1. litigated issue will always be mooted by passage of time during litigation; and
        2. plaintiff subject to challenged action in future
      2. Complex cases
        1. litigated issue will always be mooted by passage of time during litigation; and
        2. plaintiff may not face action in future, but others similarly situated will (e.g., Roe v. Wade)
  3. Ripeness [City of Los Angeles v. Lyons – Prior illegal police activity does not establish real and immediate threat of same harm being repeated]
    1. Statute or state action prohibits plaintiff from engaging in Constitutionally protected activity.
    2. But for statute, plaintiff would engage in that activity.
    3. Substantial probability plaintiff will be injured by statue if he engages in the activity, so there’s a “chilling effect” on Constitutional rights.
  4. Political Question
    1. Is there a textual commitment of this issue to one of the other two branches of government?
      1. Powell v. McCormack – Where Constitution is clear about qualifications for election of Member of Congress, and activity challenged is preclusion despite qualification, Court may enjoin Congress from excluding qualified Member from taking oath.
      2. Nixon v. U.S. – Impeachment trial process not textually committed, but left to Senate, so case is nonjusticiable.
      3. Goldwater v. Carter – Constitutional silence on Presidential power to abrogate treaties means it is a political question.
    2. Is the Court competent to decide the issue?
    3. Are there prudential considerations against intervention?

1 comment:

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