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Lecture Notes: 2/29 and 3/02

by: Abby Kienle

Lecture Notes: 2/29 and 3/02 POLS 341

Abby Kienle
Cal Poly
GPA 3.5

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About this Document

These notes cover everything that we talked about in class this week: The New Democrats, Rehnquist, Brennan, U.S. vs. Lopez, U.S. vs. Morrison, and Gonzales vs. Raich.
American Constitutional Law
Professor Denbow
Class Notes
American Constitutional Law, New Democrats, U.S. vs. Lopez, Gonzales v. Raich
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Abby Kienle on Wednesday March 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 341 at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo taught by Professor Denbow in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 37 views. For similar materials see American Constitutional Law in Political Science at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.


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Date Created: 03/02/16
The New Democrats & U.S. vs. Lopez Differing Judicial Philosophies Rehnquist Brennan o Judicial restraint with regard to Framers intent as constitutional social and political issues interpretation is inadequate o Deference to other branches o Framers intent o Changing society calls for a more flexible interpretation o Critique of the more expansive o Having a minimalist view of “living constitution” mode of interpretation eradicates minority rights interpretation o Those who reject the living o Too much power given to court constitution fail to protect vulnerable minorities (prisoners specifically) o o Classical liberalism o Need to protect the people from politics and infringement of right The New Democrats o Bill Clinton 1996  Democratic president, however, part of the era of “New Democrats”  Democratic party that no longer holds the values of the New Deal Era  “era of big government is over”  Similar to Reagan’s presidency  FDR and Clinton have opposing ideologies regarding government roles in society, despite both being democrats  Clinton: “ there is not a program for every problem”  FDR: “let’s create a program for everything”  Clinton focuses on a regulation of existing government rather than its expansion  Big government does not have the answers U.S. vs. Lopez Lopez brings a gun to his high school to sell to another student and is convicted under the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990 o Appellate and Supreme Court overturn his conviction Congress says that GFSZA is constitutional under Interstate Commerce Clause o The presence of guns and violence in schools severely hinders student productivity and therefore affects future employment and ICC o “potentially violent weapons” can affect ICC o More violence affects insurance and deters tourism in areas perceived to be violent  Travel and economy fall under ICC Court decision o If we rule that this is constitutional, what cant congress do?  Would have to apply to anything and everything that could potentially cause a violent crime  i.e. a fork Did congress have the power to pass this legislation under ICC? NO o government argument is too expansive o Rehnquist cites Gibbens v. Ogden as precedent  Established clear limits on commerce dealing with things between states  Must be a meaningful limit of federal power under ICC; must be room for intrastate powers  First time since Laughlin Steel that the Court has limited congressional power under ICC  Focuses on the implications of limits when talking about precedent cases rather than the decisions of those cases  Even when they end up expanding government power in their decisions o Substantially Affects Test: does whatever congress is trying to regulate, in the aggregate, affect ICC substantially?  Rehnquist, in this case, says no, GFSZA has nothing to do with commerce Thomas Concurrence o Originalist interpretation  Looks at only the text of the constitution and the literal meaning Bryer Dissent: o Wants to perform a rational basis test-> deference to legislature  Living constitution approach NOTE: Wichard v Fillburn 1942 often cited in cases like these part of the New Deal o restricted the amount of wheat produced so that prices were low  agricultural adjustment act  Ohio farmer growing for personal use and tries to challenge the constitutionality of this act  court upholds constitutionality of AAA  aggregate wheat growth, whether commercial or personal, has a substantial effect on the economy 3/02/16 U.S. vs. Morrison (2000) Context o Freshman female student at Virginia Tech is sexually assaulted by two male students  VT does not do much about the situation and the perpetrators get off scott free o Female student sues the male students under provision 13981 of the Violence Against Women Act  This provision allows survivors of sexual assault to seek punitive and compensatory damages through a federal civil suit against perpetrators  Not criminal Does congress have the authority to pass the VAWA…? o Under ICC? NO o Under Section 5 of the 14 amendment? NO The Court’s Opinion o ICC  Gender motivated violence does not have a substantial effect on interstate commerce  It is NOT economic activity o Only economic activity can be regulated by Congress under the ICC  If we accept this as appropriate legislation, what cant congress do?  Congress argues that gender motivated violence severely affects women’s ability to be “productive citizens”  Rehnquist dismisses this th o 14 Amendment  Gives Congress the authority to enforce the 14 amendment through “appropriate” legislation  Court says this passage of the VAWA is a slippery slope o No clear distinction between federal and state powers  Court appeals to the Civil Rights Cases o 14 amendment only allows congress to prohibit state actors  This legislation targets individuals o Congressional vs. Judicial power  Proper remedy under the 14 amendment  Who can give that proper remedy? The federal government or state? Souter’s Dissent o Rationality review  Does Congress have a legitimate interest for this  Whether or not this is economic or involving commerce is for the legislative to decide Breyer Dissent o Thinks that the courts jurisprudence under ICC is incoherent o Court had evidence showing how inadequate state legislation regarding this type of violence is  Should have let Congress remedy that  Nationwide problem Gonzales vs. Raich (2005) Context o CA law: Compassionate Use Act  Allows for the medicinal use of marijuana without criminal persecution o 2 women who had medical cards were cultivating and using medicinal marijuana  Federal authorities became involved and destroy their medical marijuana  Says it’s a violation of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 o Raich challenging the constitutionality of CSA Constitutional Question o Does congress have the ability to prohibit local cultivation and use of marijuana that is in compliance with CA law? YES  Wichard Case  In the aggregate, medicinal marijuana has a huge effect on marijuana sales and the economy as a whole o Substantial effect on ICC  Congress has the power to regulate purely local activities that are part of an economic class of activities that have a “substantial effect” on ICC o Applied to a rational basis test  Clear economic activity  Distinguishes this from Lopez and Morrison cases, which are not dealing with clear economic activities  Case suggests a limit to what the Court will overturn o ICC is still broad when it comes to economic legislation but not when it comes to cases of morality


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