California Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law
I. Introduction to Constitutional Law
– The Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land
– Principles of judicial review established in Marbury v. Madison (1803)
– The structure of the U.S. government: separation of powers and federalism
II. The Judicial Branch and Judicial Review
– Marbury v. Madison (1803) and the power of judicial review
* Facts: Marbury sued to obtain his commission as a Justice of the Peace.
* Issue: Does Marbury have a right to the commission? Can he sue for it in the Supreme Court? Does the Supreme Court have the authority to order the delivery of the commission?
* Rule: The Constitution is the supreme law, and when there is a conflict between the Constitution and an act of the legislature, the Constitution must be followed.
* Analysis: The Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the Constitution and determine the validity of the law that Marbury relies upon.
* Conclusion: The law that gave the Supreme Court the power to order the delivery of the commission is unconstitutional, and therefore Marbury doesn’t get his commission.
– The role of the California Supreme Court and the California Constitution
– The division of powers between the federal government and the states
– The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2)
– The Tenth Amendment and states’ powers
– Preemption doctrine and conflicts between federal and state law
– Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3)
* Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) and the broad interpretation of interstate commerce
– California’s unique state constitutional provisions affecting federalism
IV. Separation of Powers
– The distribution of powers among the three branches of government
– Checks and balances among the branches
– The President’s executive power and its limitations
– Congress’s legislative powers
– The nondelegation doctrine
– Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952) on executive power and its limits
* Facts: During the Korean War, President Truman issued an executive order to seize and operate steel mills to prevent a strike.
* Issue: Does the President have the inherent power to seize private property to keep the mills running?
* Rule: The President’s power must stem from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.
* Analysis: No Congressional statute authorized such seizure, and there was no Constitutional grant of power in this context.
* Conclusion: The seizure was unconstitutional.
V. The Legislative Branch
– The structure and powers of Congress
– The Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18)
– McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) on Congressional power and the Necessary and Proper Clause
– Limitations on Congressional power, such as the nondelegation doctrine and the prohibition on ex post facto laws
VI. The Executive Branch
– The powers and duties of the President
– Executive orders, signing statements, and executive privilege
– The Appointment and Removal Powers
– The Take Care Clause (Article II, Section 3)
VII. Individual Rights and Liberties
– The Bill of Rights and its application to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment
– Freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition
– The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause
* Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) and the Lemon Test
* Employment Division v. Smith (1990) and limitations on free exercise claims
– Due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment
* Procedural due process
* Substantive due process, including privacy rights and Roe v. Wade (1973)
– Equal protection under the law
* Standards of review: rational basis, intermediate scrutiny, and strict scrutiny
* Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the rejection of “separate but equal”
* California-specific equal protection cases
VIII. Criminal Procedure and the Constitution
– The Fourth Amendment and search and seizure
– The Fifth Amendment and protection against self-incrimination
– The Sixth Amendment and the rights of the accused
– The Eighth Amendment and protections against cruel and unusual punishment
– The incorporation of the Bill of Rights into state law through the Fourteenth Amendment
IX. California Constitutional Law
– The California Constitution as a source of rights beyond the U.S. Constitution
– Unique features of California’s Constitution, such as the privacy rights under Article I, Section 1
– The initiative, referendum, and recall processes
– The California Supreme Court’s role in interpreting the state constitution
– Recapping the main themes and principles learned in the course
– The ongoing nature of constitutional interpretation and the influence of societal changes
– The importance of state constitutions, especially California’s, in providing additional protections
This guide outlines the essential topics and cases in a California Law School 1L Constitutional Law course. It provides a foundation for understanding the principles, structures, and functions of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the unique aspects of California constitutional law. Students should draw from this guide while studying, ensuring they comprehend each concept and revisit the cases using the IRAC method for deeper analysis.