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Powers of Federal Court

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  1. Does gov't have the power to act?
  1. Federal must have express authority
  1. CONGRESS! Can’t act in general welfare
  2. Fed courts must hear cases only which have statutory
  1. State and local can do anything except that which is prohibited by constitution
  1. Has gov't violated a limit on it's authority
  1. Amendments
  2. Due Process Equal Protection


Powers of Federal Court

  • Must be constitutional authority
  • Statutory authority

States Can hear anything unless exclusive federal court jxd




  1. Cases and Controversies0- defines constitutional law authority
  • Article 3 Section 2 defines judicial power
  • Giving rise to a series of limits to federal judicial power
  • Justiciability Doctrines
  1. Standing- whether P is proper party to bring a matter to court for ajudication
  2. Requirements:
  1. Injury- allege and prove that she has been or imminently will be injured (P may only present personally suffered injuries) if P is seeking injunctive or declaratory relief must show future harm
  2. Causation and redressability- D caused the injury so favorable decision will remedy the injury
  3. No third-party standing is allowed
  4. Exceptions
  1. Sufficiently close relationship (third party is allowed); P can adequately represent interests of 3P (doctor/patient)
  2. Injured 3P can't assert his own rights
  3. Organizational standing- members must have standing; interest must relate to organization's purpose; neither claim nor relief must require individuals participation
  1. No generalized grievances are allowed- P must not be suing solely as a citizen or taxpayer interested in government follow the law- BUT taxpayers can challenge gov't expenditures pursuant to a staute for violating the establishment clause
  • Ripeness- may the federal court grant pre-enforcement review of a statute or regulation
  • Must really be a case
  • Is there a request for declaratory judgment?
  • Hardship P will suffer without review
  • Fitness of the issues in the record for judicial review
  • Abbot- FDA adopted rule for generic name on label, moved to dismiss on ripeness bc no drug companies had been prosecuted on violating rule
  1. Great hardship- drug companies would have to either break rule and break law or comply and lose millions
  2. Fitness- q of law; nothing to be gained by waiting
  3. RIPE!
  • Mootness (must not be moot)
  • If events after initial filing of lawsuit end P's injury, case dismissed as moot
  • Must present live controversy in all stages
  1. Exception: wrongs capable of repetition
  2. Roe v Wade- injury was over but could still decide bc capable of repetition, could become pregnant again
  3. Voluntary cessation:
  4. Class action suits- one member of class has ongoing injury
  • Political Question- allegations of constitutional violations that  fed court will not adjudicate; left to judicial branch (must not pose political q)
  • Cases under Republican form of government clause-// GUARANTEE CLAUSE  art 4 sec 4; nonjusticiable
  • Challenges to Pres. Conduct to foreign policy
  • Challenges to impeachment and removal process
  1. Nixon v. US- challenging impeachment and
  • Challenges to partisan gerrymandering
  1. Political P that controls leg. Draws election district to maximize seats
  1. Supreme Court Review
  • Writ of Certiorari- court has complete discretion (4 votes)
  • All cases by USCOA go by Certiorari
  • Appeals exist only for SCOTUS decision by three judge federal district courts
  • If statute says its appeal, SCOTUS must take, only one instance, 3 judge fed. District court
  • Original and exclusive jxd to hear suits between state gov'ts
  • Marbury v. Madison- Congress cannot expand original jxd of the supreme court, limited to just that enumerated in article 3
  • Only after there's a final judgment
  • Must not be an independent and adequate state law ground of decision
  • If a state court decision rests on two grounds (fed & state), if supreme court reversal of federal law will not change case, can't hear it
  1. Lower Federal Court Review
  • All justiciability must be met
  • Federal courts can't ask for suits against state governments
  • Principal of sovereign immunity- 11th amendment bars suits against state gov'ts in federal court
  • Exceptions to sovereign immunity-
  • Waiver- state gov't can consent, must be explicit
  • Pursuant to fed. Statutes adopted by congress under sec 5 of 14th amendment by congress can't override SI with any other powers
  • Fed gov't may sue state gov't
  • Bankruptcy
  • State officers may be sued (unless state treasury would be liable for retroactive damages-- unless indemnification that’s ok
  • Obstention- instances where fed court has jxd but does not exercise it




  • Congress's authority to act
  • Congress may act only if express or implied authority
  • No general federal police power
  • Necessary and proper clause
  • Article 1 sec 8
  • McCulloch v. Maryland- Congress may choose any means not prohibited by constitution to carry out lawful authority (bake sale)
  • Taxing spending and commerce clause powers
  • Art 1 sec 8- important
  • Congress may tax and spend for the general welfare- may create any tax to raise revenue and
  • NFIB v. Civ.- Obamacare SCOTUS says individual mandate was exercise of taxing power
  • Commerce clause
  • Regulate commerce with foreign nations, among states
  • 37-95- broadly defined scope of authority
  • 95- US v. Lopez: gun-free school zone act- SCOTUS declare unconstitutional, exceeded scope, congress can act under clause:
  1. May regulate channels of interstate commerce
  1. Places, highways, waterways, internet
  2. Instrumentalities, and persons/things in interstate commerce
  1. Gibbons v Ogden- commerce refers to all forms of intercourse, goes across state lines- John Marshall's definition
  1. Substantial effect
  1. Wickard- wheat, growing for family; upheld federal law and ruled against farmer, looking at all wheat that all farmers grew for home consumption, taken cumulatively, there was a substantial effect on prices
  2. Gonzalez v. Raich- marijuana for personal use- fed controlled substance act was upheld bc crop is bought and sold for interstate commerce, reducing that crop is interstate commerce, when looking cumulatively across country it has substantial effect
  3. Morrison- When it comes to non-economic activity, substantial effect cannot be looked at cumulatively (can't be based on cumulative impact)
  4. NFIB- Can't regulate inactivity (wasn't constitutional based on commerce power, congress was regulating inactivity)
  • 10th amendment- all powers not granted to US nor prohibited to states are reserved to states and people respectively
  • Limit on federal powers
  • Congress cannot compel state legislative or regulatory activity
  • NY v. US-  radioactive waste disposal act
  • Congress was comandeering the states
  • Prince v. US- comandeering= forcing states to have lawss
  • Strings on grants
  • Clearly stated
  • Related to purpose of program
  • Not unduly coercive
  • NFIB- states are so dependent on medicaid money that it was coercive
  • Congress may prohibit harmful commercial activity by state governments
  • Congress's power under sec 5 of 14th amendment
  • Can't create new rights or expand scope of rights
  • Legislate or prevent violation of rights already recognized by courts
  • Laws must be proportionate and congruent (narrowly tailored) to prove constitutional violations
  • DELEGATION of power
  • Non-delegation doctrine- congress could not delegate in excess of legislative power
  • Legislative vetoes and line-item vetoes are ALWAYS unconstitutional
  • For congress to act must be: Bicameralism (passage by both houses), and presentment (signed by president)
  • Legislative veto is where they try to overturn an action without one of above
  • Line-item- veto part of bill while signing rest into law; must sign whole bill or veto whole bill
  • Congress cannot delegate power to itself or officers



  • Article two- powers of president
  • Foreign Policy
  • Treaties- negotiated by president and effective when ratified by senate
  • State laws that conflict with treaties are invalid- treaty w canada of
  • Conflict with treaty and federal statute the one adopted last in time controls
  • Treaties are unconstitutional if they violate the constitution
  • Executive Agreements
  • Agreement between foreign country and US negotiated by Pres and effective when signed by
  • No Senate approval
  • May be used for any purpose
  • Executive Agreements prevail over conflicting state laws, but never over federal laws or const.
  • President has broad powers as Commander in Chief to use American troops in foreign countries
  • Never been declared unconstitutional
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Appointment and Removal Power
  • Who possesses? President appoints ambassadors, federal judges, and officers of the united states; senate must approve nomination (but Pres has sole power to appoint)
  • Congress may vest appointment of inferior officers in President, heads of departments, or lower federal courts
  • Distinction not clearly defined- inferior officer can be fired by an office of the U.S. (AG may fire US attorneys, inferior officers)
  • Congress cannot give appointment power to itself or its officers
  • Giving itself an executive power
  • President may not make recess appointments for intrasession recesses less than 10 days
  • NLRB- recess between holidays
  • Removal Power
  • Unless limited by a federal statute, President may remove any executive branch official
  • But Congress by statute may limit removal if both of two requirements are met
  • Must be an office where independence of the President is desirable (independent counsel) vs Congress can't limit removal of cabinet
  • Statute must not prohibit removal- it can limit removal to where there's good cause
  • Most they can do is say removal is allowed only if good cause is shown
  • President has immunity to civil suits for money damages for anything done while in office
  • Nixon v. Fitzgerald
  • Don't have immunity for acts that allegedly occurred prior to taking office
  • Clinton v. Jones- immunity exists at exercise of discretion while in office
  • Executive privilege protects presidential papers and convos but must yield when there is an overriding need
  • US v. Nixon- Watergate- this power is not absolute, privilege must yirld when overriding need for info, need for info in criminal trial outweighs privilege





  • Preemption
  • Article 6- Supremacy Clause: state or local law is deemed preempted if there is a conflict
  • Ways:
  1. Express: Federal statute explicitly says federal law is exclusive in a field, then state and local laws are preempted
  2. Implied: (1) if federal law and state law are mutually exclusive (conflicts preemption- not possible to simultaneously comply with fed and state- maple syrup bottles) but states can set stricter laws than fed laws, (2) state or local law impedes the achievement of a federal objective (object preemption),  (3) if congress evidences a clear intent to preempt state/local laws then they are preempted (immigration law)
  3. States cannot tax or regulate federal government activity
  1. McCullogh v. Maryland- power to tax is power to destroy; unconstitutional to pay a state tax out of the federal treasury `
  • Dormant Commerce Clause & Privileges/Immunities Clause - Article 4
  • When do state/local laws violate
  • Definitions
  • Dormant Commerce Clause- principle that state and local laws are unconstitutional if they place an undue burden on interstate commerce
  • Limit on what state and local governments can do-- who is the actor in question (if it’s a challenge to something state/local gov't has done)
  • Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article 4- no state may deprive citizens of other states of privileges and immunities it gives its own citizens
  • Anti-discrimination provision to out-of-state citizens; limits
  • Privileges or Immunities Clause of 14th Amendment- used only by SCOTUS to protect right to interstate travel
  • Protect people of their own state governments
  • Protect right to travel
  • Does state or local law discriminate against out of state citizens
  • Or does it treat in state and out of state alike
  • What If it does not discriminate?
  • Privilege/immunities of article 4 does not apply
  • If law puts a burden on interstate commerce, it violates the dormant commerce clause if burden outweighs benefits in law
  • Illinois law required curved mudflaps- did not discriminate but still unconstitutional because burden on drivers, would have to avoid state or change flaps
  • Analysis When it Does Discriminate
  • If law puts burden on interstate commerce, it violates dormant commerce clause unless its necessary to achieve a very important gov't purpose
  • State gov't must show there is a very important interest served (like strict scrutiny)
  • Law is necessary to achieve that objective, no less discriminatory alternative can achieve its objective
  • Exceptions to Dormant CC:
  • Congressional Approval- if congress has approved state law, its then permissible even if it violates dormant CC (because Commerce power is no longer dormant)
  • Market Participant Exception- state gov't may favor its own citizens in receiving benefits from gov't programs or in dealing with gov't owned businesses
  • University of CA can charge less in tuition to in-state residents and more to out of state; allowed because  university is a govt benefit program, residents have been paying taxes, reward them
  • State of SD owned and operated cement factory, charged less to in state; upheld SD law bc gov't owned and operated business, gov't was literally the market participant
  • Privileges/Immunities Clause
  • State gov't violates clause when discriminating against out of state to earn living unless
  • Requirements
  • Must be discrimination against out of state citizens
  • Discrimination must be with regard to fundamental rights or ability to earn one's livelihood (although fundamental usually is 1st am.)
  • VA public records act- no fundamental right of access to public records
  • Earn living- fishing license- out of state $2500, in state $25 BUT compare to elk hunting case is a HOBBY
  • Corporations and aliens cannot provoke this provision
  • If P is a corporation, challenging state or local law DO NOT USE P/I CLAUSE USE ONLY DORMANT CC
  • Only if used to achieve substantial gov't interest
  • START:
  1. Discriminates out of state?
  • State/Local Taxation on Interstate Commerce
  • States may not use their tax systems to help in state businesses at the expense of out of state businesses (tax credit for only purchasing ethanol in state; smaller tax for purchasing dairy in state)
  • State may only tax activities that are of substantial connection to that state
  • State taxation of interstate companies must be fairly apportioned
  • Full Faith and Credit
  • Court that's in one state must enforce judgment of another state so long as all 3 are met:
  • Court that issued judgment must have had both personal jurisdiction and SMJ
  • Judgment must be on merits
  • Judgment must be final



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