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Constitutional Law Civil and Political Rights 3364 Week 2 Notes

by: Taylor Garrett

Constitutional Law Civil and Political Rights 3364 Week 2 Notes PSCI 3364

Marketplace > Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University > Political Science > PSCI 3364 > Constitutional Law Civil and Political Rights 3364 Week 2 Notes
Taylor Garrett
Virginia Tech

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About this Document

These notes cover methods of constitutional interpretation, terminology used in court decisions, and the basics of case briefing.
Constitutional Law Civil and Political Rights
Brandy S. Faulkner
Class Notes
Constitutional, Interpretation, court, Processes, liberties, rights
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taylor Garrett on Friday September 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 3364 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Brandy S. Faulkner in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Constitutional Law Civil and Political Rights in Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 09/02/16
8/29/2016  Senior justice typically issues opinion of the court o Particularly if the issue at hand is significant to him/her o Majority decision is reached  Opinion of the courts deliverers its viewpoint/reasoning behind decision  Legally binding to lower courts  Requires majority on both decision and reasoning o Concurring opinion is optional  Justice(s) who agree with decision but not reasoning  Reasoning here is not legally binding o Dissenting opinion  Justice(s) who disagree with the majority decision  Neither decision nor reasoning here is binding  Useful for future models  Point out weaknesses in majority’s reasoning  Can sometimes become majority’s reasoning  Can cause the majority to address the dissenters’ concerns o Part concurring, part dissenting opinion  Justice(s) agree with some and disagree with other parts of the majority  opinion o Plurality opinion  Clear majority reasoning cannot be reached  Or majority vote cannot be reached  In this case, opinion of the court must be reached  Binding  All justices then write their own opinions o Not binding  Per Curium o Unsigned, brief statement of the court o 2­3 sentences o Announces decision of the court o No reasoning included, just official judgement  Recusal o Ethical issue  The fact that there are nine Supreme court justices is arbitrary o Matter of federal law, and not a constitutional provision o FDR implemented scheme to “pack the court” in order to push his New Deal  programs through the legislative branch  Appointed justices he knew would support him 8/31/2016  Case Briefing o Citation­ title of case, where it came from, etc. o Statement of facts­ who’s involved, what the controversy is about, who did what  to whom and why, the law that’s being applied o Question­ constitutional or legal; can be more than one. o Decision­ yes or no o Reasoning for the decision­ majority and dissenting opinion  Name of judge or justice writing the opinion  o Vote o Precedent­ rule of law that results from the case that will then be applied to  similar future cases   No more than a page and a half  Constitutional and practical limitations   Getting the case to the court in regard to the constitutional limitations: o Article Three specifies the nature of judicial decision making o Required that an actual case or controversy exists  o Controversy requirement separates it from most other legal systems in the world o Prohibits the courts from rendering advisory opinions o Someone actually has to suffer injury or harm before they can litigate a case  Cannot be speculative, must be actual o Principle of standing o Requirements for standing:  Injury in fact  Some policy or action caused actual harm to you (physical,  financial)  Zone of interest  Must be some policy or legal provision that protects you from the  harm that was suffered  Redressability   The courts must believe that it has a mechanism for redressing  your injury  Typically results in some court order to do or not do something  Sometimes courts view this last criteria as more important than the  other two  o Office at state and federal level that does issue advisory opinions­ US Attorney  General o Jurisdiction   In order for the courts to hear a case, they must have jurisdiction over it  No state issues in federal courts  Comes from two places  Article Three outlines Supreme Court jurisdiction  Legislative branch has the power to grant jurisdiction  o Moot cases   One in which there has been a settling of the legal matter before the case  reaches the court   Courts can dismiss the case  Typically will, because there is no longer a case or controversy  State courts will occasionally accept, but rarely federal   Federal justices do what they can to decrease their caseloads/dockets o Exhaustion   Typically more relevant in administrative law  before you can bring a case into court, you should have exhausted all other potential remedies  Many courts are now mandating alternative forms of dispute resolution  o Political Questions Doctrine  Cases may be dismissed if the primary issue in the case is regarded as   excessively political   Should be a matter for state legislature or Congress to decide, and the  courts don’t want to get involved  Marbury vs. Madison o Established judicial review o Courts felt it was necessary to make decisions that unified  the rule of law across the country   What is an inherently political question? Courts have never  definitively decided   Most of the questions concern how far the courts should go  Congress can remove jurisdiction at any time  9/2/2016  Methods of Constitutional interpretation o Jurisprudence   Lets us examine judge and justice decision making processes   What his/her language meant in an opinion  Factors impacting a decision  Analysis sometimes rooted in ideas about what the role of a judge or  justice should be in the court  Many different backgrounds and personalities that make it into Supreme  Court o Originalism/Original intent  Those who follow believe that it is important to try to determine exactly  what the writers of the constitutional or legislative position intended at the  time and within the context with which it was written  Historical approach to constitutional interpretation  We can examine documents and records and come to a conclusion about  what its writers intended.  Provides stability and a foundational source from which we can view the  world  Many judges view original intent as a way to preserve the authority of the  courts. o Textualism  Adhered to less frequently than the others  Original intent does not matter  Nor does structuralism  Plain words of the document itself   Strict constructionist perspective on the Constitution   Context is far less significant than the language used   Believe that we should not try to infer any meaning from the framers’  writings  The document stands as is  The more we try to read into the Constitution, we get away from  the purpose of the document o Which was to set up a system of government that allows us  to be in control  Literalist approach to constitutional interpretation  Justice Black was in this category  Always determined the outcome of his vote on any case o Structuralism  Almost direct counter of original intent  Idea that the constitution and other laws are organic and dynamic, not  static  Living organisms whose meanings and contexts change over time  Even when the language of the document does not change, its application  does.   We must use contemporary standards to interpret the Constitution  It is impossible and quite arrogant to think you can know what the writers  of the constitution meant when they wrote it  Document was the result of political and social compromise  Compromise must continue  Perspective rooted in flexibility   The important thing to preserve is the spirit of the document  General principles and ideas of the document o Pragmatism   Judicial decisions do not take place in any isolated vacuum  Judges are political actors   They bring their own set of political biases and opinions to the table  Wrong to deny this  All decisions that come from a judge or justice are inherently political  ones  Judges can and should consider social and political contexts in decision  making  Because their decisions will have both political and social  consequences  External impact  Rather than look at the original words of the document, sustainability it  focused on  Usefulness/pragmatic nature of the document  Quite difficult to please every justice’s worldview through decision  Rights  o Natural  Those that extend from human existence   By virtue of humanity, it is theorized, there are a set of behaviors and  ideologies to which you are entitled  Not given by society or government  May not be taken away legitimately   Historically not very controversial   In certain areas of life, we have complete autonomy   What qualifies as a natural right?  Look for the right that people protect and defend with their lives as a litmus test for natural or civil rights  The idea of that right being taken is very problematic o Civil  Belong to citizens of an organized state  In a similar vein as natural rights, they don’t [shouldn’t] require any state  maintenance   Can conflict with natural rights  Anyone who enjoys either has a right to defend them  Very few rights are actually outlined in the constitution o Civil nor natural   Liberties o Negotiated o Provisioned/conditional o Not absolute o May legitimately be suspended or eliminated o Expectation of continuation


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