PSC Unit 1 Case Facts

Flashcard maker : Lily Taylor
Facts – Marbury v. Madison
Shortly before leaving office John Adams appointed William Marbury as justice of the peace, but his commission was not delivered. The incoming secretary of state, James Madison, withheld the commission and so Marbury filed suit in the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction under the Judiciary Act of 1789.
Question – Marbury v. Madison
Does the petitioner have a right to his commission and can the court grant him his commission through a writ of mandamus.
Holding – Marbury v. Madison
The petitioner does have a right to his commission but the law allowing jurisdiction to the supreme court in the matter is unconstitutional so mandamus cannot be granted.
Reasoning – Marbury v. Madison
The petitioner does have a right to his commission because the appointment was properly processed so as to be valid. However according to the construction of the constitution congress may not add additional original jurisdiction for the supreme court therefore that section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is unconstitutional.
Significance – Marbury v. Madison
Establishes the court’s power of judicial review under the principle that the constitution is law and that the court may interpret when lower laws are in conflict with it and strike them down.
Facts – Fletcher v. Peck
The Georgia legislature sold land grants to several buyers as part of the the “Yazoo Land Act.” The legislature later rescinded the land act and reclaimed all the land sold claiming that there were significant occurrences of fraud. One of the purchasers of land who had no involvement in fraud filed suit.
Question – Fletcher v. Peck
Can the state of Georgia rescind contracts that citizens had made with the state government and reclaim the sold lands?
Holding – Fletcher v. Peck
Georgia may not impair the obligation of contracts or pass ex post facto laws for the repeal of the Yazoo Land Act is unconstitutional.
Reasoning – Fletcher v. Peck
The contract clause of the USC prevents is applicable to state governments impairing the obligation of contracts. Additionally by penalizing the buyers of land after the purchase Georgia has created an ex post facto law.
Significance – Fletcher v. Peck
Establishes the courts power to strike down state laws that are in conflict with the constitution.
Facts – Cooper v. Aaron
In 1958 after the Brown v. Board of Education there was massive resistance in Arkansas by both the government and the people. This caused the local officials to seek to suspend implementation of the court’s ruling.
Question – Cooper v. Aaron
Can a direct issuance from the court be suspended on the grounds of resistance by state officials or by it resulting in a disruption of the peace.
Holding – Cooper v. Aaron
The original ruling of the court in Brown v. Board of Education must be executed and the court cannot be overruled by state officials or by the fact that its initiation might disrupt the peace.
Reasoning – Cooper v. Aaron
Since the court interprets the USC which is the supreme law of the land its word is equally as powerful and cannot be halted by dissent from lower levels of government.
Significance – Cooper v. Aaron
Establishes that the courts interpretation of the constitution holds near equal authority to the words of the constitution its self.
Frankfurter Concurrence – Cooper v. Aaron
In addition to the opinion of the court he emphasizes that we are a nation of laws, not men, and that the power and decree of the law cannot be swayed by overzealous governors or angry or violent citizens.
Facts – Nixon v. United States
A judge was convicted of perjury and refused to resign his position. He was impeached and brought to trial before the Senate. Under Senate rule XI the evidence of his case was heard before a small Senate committee and then presented before the entire Senate which voted to remove him from office.
Question – Nixon v. United States
Does the word “try” in Article I, Section 3 require the entire Senate to actively hear the evidence of a case before making their judgement?
Holding – Nixon v. United States
The case is unjusticiable and is not within the power of the court to decided.
Reasoning – Nixon v. United States
Since the Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments the court cannot overturn or affirm the impeachment because only the Senate is permitted to determine that.
Significance – Nixon v. United States
Establishes that in some situations the court must refrain from judgement because a matter falls outside of what they may interpret under the constitution, but the court will ultimately decide when such a situation occurs.
Facts – City of Boerne v. Flores
Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prevent states from passing legislation that is “substantially burdening on the exercise of religion.” Later a priest invoked RFRA to justify his right to expand his church and the case was appealed to the high court.
Question – City of Boerne v. Flores
Does congress have the authority under the 5th section of the 14th amendment to pass laws that expand the reach of constitutional rights?
Holding – City of Boerne v. Flores
Congress is not able to expand the protection of constitutional rights and the RFRA was unconstitutional.
Reasoning – City of Boerne v. Flores
Sec. 5 allows congress to enforce only the provisions of the 14th Amd not the rights that those provisions apply to. This power is meant to preventive and remedial not expansional.
Significance – City of Boerne v. Flores
Establishes that congress may not pass legislation to further define the scope of constitutional rights and that such definition originates solely from the judiciary.
Facts – Bush v. Gore
During a presidential elections the electoral votes of Florida came into question when it was awarded to one candidate but the other filed with the Florida Supreme Court for a recount. The other candidate filed for an injunction in a federal court and the case was brought before the supreme court.
Question – Bush v. Gore
Was the Florida Court justified in their call for a recount and were the terms of such a recount were consistent with the Equal Protection Clause and the election procedures in Article II?
Holding – Bush v. Gore
The ordered recount cannot possibly be held in a constitutional manner in the time left before the federal election deadline, and therefore there will be no recount.
Reasoning – Bush v. Gore
The Florida Court violates the equal protection of each vote under the law by ordering an ununiform recount and a fair recount cannot be accomplished within the federal election deadline.
Significance – Bush v. Gore
Establishes the courts power to overrule the judgement of state courts on state laws and also allows the court the ability to determine disputes involving national elections.
Facts – McCulloch v. Maryland
The state of Maryland passed a law levying a tax on the Bank of the United States branch in Baltimore and filed suit when the bank refused to pay.
Question – McCulloch v. Maryland
Does congress have authority to charter a bank and can such a bank be taxed by a state government.
Holding – McCulloch v. Maryland
Congress can charter a bank states may not levy taxes against a federally chartered bank.
Reasoning – McCulloch v. Maryland
The court ruled that under the elastic clause congress may to a certain extent make laws that it deems necessary and proper to carry out its enumerated powers. Additionally a states power to tax is limited to that states constituents and cannot be applied to the bank.
Significance – McCulloch v. Maryland
Establishes a somewhat liberal reading of the elastic clause to grant congress the power to enact legislation not specifically laid out in the constitution. Also establishes that federal legislation is superior to state legislation.
Facts – Gibbons v. Ogden
New York granted a single steam boat operator a monopoly over New York water. This operator filed suit against a competing federally licensed operator that sailed from New Jersey to New York.
Question – Gibbons v. Ogden
Does congress’s power to regulate commerce apply to regulation of navigation of waters and does this power excluded the states from having a similar power within their respective territory?
Holding – Gibbons v. Ogden
Commerce does include navigation and the New York law is contrary to the federal licensing law and is unconstitutional.
Reasoning – Gibbons v. Ogden
The text of the constitution implies that navigation is commerce and since traveling for interstate commerce involves intrastate travel New York’s laws may not restrict intrastate travel if that in turn restricts interstate travel.
Significance – Gibbons v. Ogden
Establishes that congress may regulate intrastate activity to some degree in the course of regulating interstate commerce.
Facts – Hammer v. Dagenhart
Congress passed a law restricting the interstate sale of goods that were produced by children under the age of 16. A father of a child laborer challenged this law in court.
Question – Hammer v. Dagenhart
Can congress restrict items from interstate commerce based on the conditions of the workers that produced those items?
Holding – Hammer v. Dagenhart
Congress cannot set conditions on production for use of the facilities of interstate commerce.
Reasoning – Hammer v. Dagenhart
Because congress intended to regulate the conditions surrounding the manufacture of an item rather that to regulate the distribution of the item, they have exceeded their authority under the commerce clause by regulating something that is not commerce.
Significance – Hammer v. Dagenhart
Establishes (albeit only for a short period) that congress may not indirectly regulate activities that are not commerce by with holding use of interstate commerce.
Facts – A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States
Congress passed regulations concerning the safety and labor of employees of the poultry industry known as the Live Poultry Code. The defendant was charged with violating this code and appealed their case to the Supreme Court.
Question – A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States
Can congress regulate as commerce activities that utilize materials that are acquired through clear interstate commerce?
Holding – A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States
Congress may not regulate activities that involve materials acquired through interstate commerce once the materials have left the stream of commerce.
Reasoning – A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States
Once the materials leave the stream of commerce they are no longer included in interstate commerce and can therefore not be regulated by congress.
Significance – A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States
Establishes that congress may only regulate items and activities related to items that are actively part of commerce and not any item that happens to be related to commerce in some way.
Facts – Carter v. Carter Coal Company
Congress attempted to regulate the working conditions of coal miners because the production of coal has a direct affect on interstate commerce and the law was challenged before the supreme court.
Question – Carter v. Carter Coal Company
Does congress have the authority to regulate the coal industry because it directly effects interstate commerce due to its sheer magnitude.
Holding – Carter v. Carter Coal Company
Congress may not regulate the coal industry because the production of coal does not directly effect interstate commerce.
Reasoning – Carter v. Carter Coal Company
How a commodity is produced has only an indirect effect on commerce. The nature of this effect does not become direct simply because of the scale of the industry.
Holding – Carter v. Carter Coal Company
Establishes that congress may not regulate indirect effects on commerce regardless of how substantial those indirect effects may be.
Facts – National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act as part of FDR’s New Deal. The act created a board to over see that fair labor standards were maintained in industry. J Steel was found in violation of this act and were sanctioned for discriminating against union employees in their hiring practices. J then challenged the board in court.
Question – National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
Can congress regulate the conditions of labor inside a manufacturing business?
Holding – National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
Congress has the power to regulate against actions that burden the flow of interstate commerce.
Reasoning – National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
Manufacturing has a substantial effect on commerce because the manufacturing center is the focal point through which multiple streams of commerce coalesce. Disruption of this focal point by labor strife would substantially burden commerce.
Significance – National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
Establishes that congress may regulate intrastate commerce that might substantially burden the flow of interstate commerce.
Facts – United States v. Darby
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act Congress prohibited any item from traveling in the stream of interstate commerce that was manufactured by workers who made less than a set minimum wage. Darby was charged with willfully violating this act and appealed to the courts that it was unconstitutional.
Question – United States v. Darby
Does congress have the power to prohibit the interstate shipment of goods that are manufactured by workers making less than the prescribed minimum wage?
Holding – United States v. Darby
Congress has the power to prohibit the interstate shipment of good that are manufactured by workers making less than the prescribed minimum wage.
Reasoning – United States v. Darby
Regulation of commerce implies the ability to restrict certain items from commerce and it is not the place of the court to decide what reasons are appropriate to restrict something.
Significance – United States v. Darby
Establishes that congress may deny the facilities of interstate commerce to any good that is not produced to it’s standards. Also overrules Hammer v. Dagenhart.
Facts – Wickard v. Filburn
Under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 a farmer was instructed that he would only be allowed to produce a certain quota of wheat. His wheat production was in excess of that quota and he was fined accordingly even though he did not sell his wheat and the activity was entirely intrastate. The farmer filed suit and appealed his case to the supreme court.
Question – Wickard v. Filburn
Can congress regulate activity that is entirely intrastate and does not involve buying or selling under the authority of the commerce clause?
Holding – Wickard v. Filburn
Congress may regulate economic activity that is entirely intrastate if it substantially effects interstate commerce.
Reasoning – Wickard v. Filburn
The wheat that the farmer produced still effects the market value of wheat and supplies his own need that he would otherwise meet by buying wheat on the market and therefore substantially effects interstate commerce.
Significance Wickard v. Filburn
Establishes that congress may regulate activity that in entirely removed from the stream of commerce if it is deemed to have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
Facts – Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which prohibits certain businesses with significant involvement in interstate commerce from discriminating against customers based on race. The Heart of Atlanta Motel refused to comply with this law and challenged its constitutionality before the court.
Question – Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
Does discrimination in hotels that house mostly out of state guests have significant effect on interstate commerce to justify regulation by congress?
Holding – Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
Discrimination by hotels with many out of state guests has a substantial effect on interstate commerce and is therefore subject to regulation by congress.
Reasoning – Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
Discrimination by such hotels exerts a significant burden on interstate commerce by making it exceedingly difficult for negros to find lodging and is therefore able to be regulated by congress.
Significance – Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States
Establishes that congress may regulate the bushiness practices of hotels if they substantially burden interstate commerce.
Facts – Katzenbach v. McClung
In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which prohibits certain businesses with significant involvement in interstate commerce from discriminating against customers based on race. Shortly after a restaurant owner challenged the Act’s authority over restaurants that serve mostly out of state food and/or guests.
Question – Katzenbach v. McClung
Does discrimination in restaurants that serve primarily customers/food from out of state have significant effect on commerce to justify regulation by congress?
Holding – Katzenbach v. McClung
Discrimination in restaurants has a substantial impact on interstate commerce and is therefore subject to regulation by congress.
Reasoning – Katzenbach v. McClung
Restricting Negros from buying food in restaurants creates and artificial restriction in the market and interferes with the flow of merchandise and exerts a burden on interstate commerce.
Significance – Katzenbach v. McClung
Establishes congress’s ability to place restrictions on the business practices of restaurants that substantially effect interstate commerce.
Facts – United States v. Lopez
A 12th grader in a Texas high school was found in possession of a firearm on school property and was charged under the federal Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court.
Question – United States v. Lopez
Does possessing a firearm in a school zone have a substantial effect on interstate commerce to be regulated by congress?
Holding – United States v. Lopez
Carrying a gun in a school zone does not substantially effect interstate commerce and cannot be regulated by congress.
Reasoning – United States v. Lopez
Guns in a school zone only loosely relate to commerce and allowing congress to regulate that activity as commerce would allow congress to enact any regulation even loosely related to education or violent crime which are both almost exclusively areas of state responsibility.
Significance – United States v. Lopez
Establishes a limit to the congress’s commerce power, stating that congress cannot regulate noneconomic activities that may/may not effect commerce.
Facts – Gonzales v. Raich
Raich suffers from chronic illness and was using cannabis to control her pain under California’s Compassionate Use Act. After an investigation her cannabis was confiscated by the DEA as a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Raich filed suit in federal court.
Question – Gonzales v. Raich
Can congress regulate the entirely intrastate possession and cultivation of cannabis because it has a substantial effect on interstate commerce?
Holding – Gonzales v. Raich
Congress can regulate the intrastate possession and cultivation of cannabis because it substantially effects interstate commerce.
Reasoning – Gonzales v. Raich
Having a large amount of cannabis that was in personal possession and out side of government control would significantly effect the market conditions. Furthermore allowing personal possession of cannabis in an intrastate manner would greatly impede the regulation of cannabis on the interstate level.
Significance – Gonzales v. Raich
Reaffirms that congress may regulate entirely intra state and non-commercial activity if that activities substantially effects interstate commerce.
Facts – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
Congress passed the Affordable Care Act which included a provision that required all american citizens within certain qualifications to purchase health insurance or be charged a penalty. Upon its passage a collective of states and numerous businesses filed suit claiming that the law was unconstitutional.
Question – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
Does congress have the authority under the commerce clause to require all americans within a certain set of circumstance to purchase a health insurance?
Holding – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
Congress does not have the authority under the commerce clause to require private citizens to purchase insurance. However the the provision still stands on the grounds that the insurance mandate penalty is actually a tax.
Reasoning – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
Congress is not actually regulating commerce but creating commerce by mandating the purchase of insurance. However since the penalty is applied based on factors consistent with the levying of a tax it is considered a tax for constitutional purpose and justified under congress’s power to tax.
Significance – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
Establishes that congress does not have the power to compel citizens to enter into commerce, but may tax citizens for decking to complete a certain activity.
Scalia Dissent – National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius
He agrees that the penalty is not justified under the commerce clause. He furthermore states that the penalty is consistent with similar penalties in its application and should not be misconstrued as a tax for the sake of propping up a bad law.

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