Delaware Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

Delaware Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

I. Introduction to Constitutional Law
Constitutional Text: Familiarize yourself with the text of the U.S. Constitution, including the Preamble, the Seven Articles, and the Amendments, especially the Bill of Rights (Amendments I-X) and the Reconstruction Amendments (XIII, XIV, and XV).
Principles of Constitutional Interpretation: Understand the various methods of constitutional interpretation, including Originalism, Textualism, Structuralism, Precedent and the Living Constitution approach.
Judicial Review: The power established in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that allows the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional.

II. Separation of Powers
Articles I, II, and III: Discussion of the powers granted to the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches, respectively.
Checks and Balances: How the branches of government monitor and limit each other.
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952): [IRAC Analysis] The Steel Seizure Case is a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court limited the executive power of the President.

III. Federalism
Enumerated Powers: Powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution.
Reserved Powers and the Tenth Amendment: Powers not delegated to the federal government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states or the people.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819): [IRAC Analysis] Established the Necessary and Proper Clause and reaffirmed the Supremacy Clause, allowing the federal government to establish a national bank.

IV. The Commerce Clause
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824): [IRAC Analysis] Defined the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce as encompassing virtually every form of commercial activity.
Wickard v. Filburn (1942): [IRAC Analysis] Upheld the federal regulation of wheat production, expanding the Commerce Clause’s reach.
United States v. Lopez (1995): [IRAC Analysis] The Court identified limits to the Commerce Clause power, invalidating the Gun-Free School Zones Act.

V. Taxing and Spending Power
Article I, Section 8, Clause 1: Grants Congress the power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.
United States v. Butler (1936): [IRAC Analysis] Recognized the broad power of Congress to tax and spend for the general welfare.

VI. The Contract Clause
Article I, Section 10: Prohibits states from passing any law impairing the obligation of contracts.
Home Building & Loan Assoc. v. Blaisdell (1934): [IRAC Analysis] Allowed states to impose temporary moratoria on debt enforcement during economic emergencies.

VII. The First Amendment
Freedom of Speech and Press: The standards of review for restrictions on speech, such as strict scrutiny for content-based restrictions and intermediate scrutiny for content-neutral ones.
Religion Clauses: Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, with cases such as Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) and Employment Division v. Smith (1990).

VIII. Procedural Due Process
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments: Protect against deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Mathews v. Eldridge (1976): [IRAC Analysis] Established a test for determining the requirements of procedural due process.

IX. Substantive Due Process
Lochner v. New York (1905): [IRAC Analysis] Struck down a state law limiting work hours; later overturned, marking the shift from economic substantive due process to personal liberty.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): [IRAC Analysis] Recognized a right to privacy in marital relations.

X. Equal Protection Clause
Fourteenth Amendment: Prohibits states from denying any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954): [IRAC Analysis] Declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional.
Strict Scrutiny: Applied to classifications based on race or national origin; requires a compelling state interest and narrowly tailored measures.
Intermediate Scrutiny: Applied to gender classifications; requires an important state interest and that the laws are substantially related to that interest.
Rational Basis Review: Applied to other classifications; requires a legitimate state interest and that the law is rationally related to that interest.

XI. Rights of the Accused
Fourth Amendment: Unreasonable searches and seizures and the requirement for warrants.
Fifth Amendment: Protection against self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Sixth Amendment: Right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, and counsel.

XII. The Right to Privacy
Roe v. Wade (1973): [IRAC Analysis] Recognized a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion within certain stages of pregnancy.

XIII. Voting Rights
Reynolds v. Sims (1964): [IRAC Analysis] Established the principle of “one person, one vote,” requiring state legislative districts to be approximately equal in population.

XIV. Constitutional Amendments
Amendment Process: Article V describes the process for amending the Constitution.
Important Amendments: Focus on the Bill of Rights, Reconstruction Amendments, and the 19th (women’s suffrage), 22nd (presidential term limits), and 26th (voting age) Amendments.

XV. Specific Delaware Considerations
Delaware Constitution: Familiarize with the Delaware Constitution, focusing on areas where it may provide greater protections than the U.S. Constitution.
Local Case Law: Be aware of how Delaware courts have interpreted constitutional matters, which may differ from federal interpretations.

XVI. Recommended Resources
Constitutional Law Textbooks: Review recommended textbooks, which often offer a deeper analysis of cases and concepts.
Supplemental Materials: Consult study aids that specifically address constitutional law, such as Examples & Explanations, Emanuel Law Outlines, or Glannon Guides.

To prepare for your final exam, make sure to review notes from class discussions, engage with hypotheticals, and practice writing essays and multiple-choice questions. Understanding the principles and being able to apply them to different factual scenarios will be key to performing well in your Constitutional Law class.

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