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