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Flashcards in Constitutional Law Deck (29)
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The President is considering whether to enter into the "International Bio-Hazardous Medical Waste Removal Treaty" but, first, wants the Court's opinion as to whether he has the power to bind future generations to such a treaty. Should the Court decide this question?



A statute authorizes federal courts to hear claims from contractors performing work for the federal government, but the statute also grants the Secretary of Commerce authority to set aside any judgment if she deems it not "fair and reasonable." Should the Court decide contractor claims under this statute?



Ripeness: A π must allege _________________________. Generally a case is not ripe where, on the facts, significant events necessary to sharpen the issues have not yet occurred.

Actual harm or the immediate threat of harm


Congress is considering a statute that authorizes federal courts to hear claims from contractors performing work for the federal government, but the statute also grants the Secretary of Commerce authority to set aside any judgment if she deems it not "fair and reasonable." Conrad Contractor, a donor to the Secretary's main political rival, Gimme Somethin, doesn't think he should be subject to the Secretary's political retribution so he challenges the proposal in federal court. Should the federal court hear his challenge?

No, it is just a proposal.


The City of Mayberry has an ordinance on the books, enacted in 1832, that states "Anyone convicted of gawking at the wife of a town resident shall be caned at high noon in the town square." No one has ever been charged under the law, but Polly Anna, a new resident of Mayberry, sees the statute in a book in the historical collections room of the Mayberry Library. She decides to file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the law as unconstitutional. Should the court hear the case?

No - never been enforced & no indication that it will be


Mootness: A case will be dismissed as moot unless there exists an actual, live controversy between the parties at _______ stages of the litigation, including on appeal. Ask yourself: can the judge change the position of the parties or has the problem solved itself.



A case is not moot if: The injury is ____________________ to that π, yet, because of its nature, will evade review, e.g., a pregnant woman's challenge to an abortion statute. (Look for an internal time limit).

Capable of repetition


A case is not moot if: The case is brought as a ____________ and the issues remain alive at least as to one member of the class.

Class action


A case is not moot if: Superficially, the case appears moot, but there are ________________ or some continuing issues between the parties, e.g., person challenges criminal conviction and has already served his sentence, but he may still face a loss of civil rights; e.g., person sues the government for an injunction and damages but dies - the injunction claim is moot but damages may still be paid to his estate.

Collateral consequences


A case is not moot if: The ∆ has ceased the harm but is free to return to his/her old ways. "________________________." There must be no reasonable likelihood that the ∆ could return to his or her old ways; e.g., polluting plant closed but retained its certificate of operation

"Voluntary Cessation of Illegal Activities"


3 requirements for standing:

(1) π has to suffer actual, concrete injury in fact
(2) Causation
(3) Redressability (remedy)


Company A applies for a license to manufacture special green colored hair dye for the government and is turned down. Company B applies for the license and gets it. Company A sues to bar the government from giving a license to Company B. Does Company A have standing to seek that relief?

No - wrong relief (could sue to get license)


An organization, such as a union, has standing to sue for injury to itself, but it may also sue for injuries to its members if:

(1) a member or members would have standing; and
(2) the members' injury is related to the purpose of the organization; and
(3) there is no reason (such as an award of damages to individual members) that would require participation of the individual members in the suit


A party has standing only to raise his or her own rights and may not raise the rights of others, except a party may raise the rights of someone else if:

(1) the party has suffered some actual injury, and
(2) there is a special relationship between the party and the third person (usually both being parties to an exchange or transaction) and there is some hindrance to the third party raising his/her own rights

Doctor raises the rights of a patient to have an abortion.
Seller of beer raises the rights of males under 21 years o age to buy liquor.


Is there standing as a citizen?

No. Even where a π is suing under a statute conferring a "citizen standing," standing requires a personal harm suffered by the π. It is not enough to allege that you know of some illegality and that, as a citizen, it offends you.


A taxpayer has standing, as a taxpayer, to challenge:

(1) laws enacted under Congress' taxing and spending powers, not executive or administrative action; and
(2) exceeding a specific constitutional limit on taxing and spending (meaning, an Establishment clause challenge to a taxing and spending law).


π, suing as a taxpayer, brings suit to challenge, as cruel and unusual punishment, a state death penalty statute that allows capital punishment for double parking. Should the court dismiss the suit?

Yes - no standing & does not fit any taxpayer exception


π, suing as a taxpayer, challenges the government's donation of a large airplane to Minister Marley. Should the court dismiss the suit?

Yes - not pursuant to spending power (this is property power)


Legislators may challenge acts that cause them ______________, such as a member being denied the right to vote on a particular piece of legislation. But, generally, a legislator has NO standing to challenge laws which were properly enacted but which he or she believes are unconstitutional.

A personal & concrete injury


The Supreme Court may review the decisions of state courts, if and only if:

(1) The case involves a matter of federal law, and
(2) It is a final judgment, and
(3) Is from the highest state court authorized to hear the case, and
(4) There is no independent & adequate state ground on which the state court decision is based


A case rests on an independent state ground so long as:

State law does NOT depend on an interpretation of federal law or incorporate a federal standard.


Some states interpret their state constitutional provisions to mean precisely what the federal constitution means, no more and no less. In such cases, the state law ground is ______________ of federal law, and the Supreme Court ___________ review.

Not independent; may


If a state court mixes up the federal and state ground of its decision so that it is unclear whether the outcome rests on state or federal law, the Supreme Court ___________ review such a case and the independent and adequate state ground rule ____________ apply.

May; does not


A case rests on an __________ state ground if, no matter how the federal issue in the case is decided, the outcome will still be the same under the resolution of the new state law issue.



A state court rules that an anti-picketing ordinance violates the state constitution and the first amendment of the federal constitution. May the Supreme Court review such a judgment?

No because the outcome will remain the same regardless of the first amendment issue. (b/c not ok under state constitution)


In year 1, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that state financing of public education based on property taxes does not violate equal protection. In year 2, the state supreme court strikes down the same system of school financing under the state constitution. May the Supreme Court review the state court's judgment?

No because the state says not ok under state law.


Under the doctrine of abstention, a federal court will decline to hear a case challenging a state law if: it involves a constitutional challenge to the state law, but the meaning of the state law is ______________, or the matter is already pending before state judicial or administrative tribunals.

Unsettled or unclear


Federal courts ________ decide political questions.

Will not


Federal courts may decide only actual _____________. They may not render advisory opinions, that is, opinions which do not bind the parties to the court's judgment.

Cases & controversies