Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

I. Structure of the Constitution

  • The Preamble – An introduction to the Constitution, expressing the reasons it was written.
  • Articles I, II, and III – These establish the three branches of the federal government: Legislative (Congress), Executive (President), and Judicial (Supreme Court).
  • Separation of Powers – Each branch has distinct powers and responsibilities to prevent any one branch from gaining too much power (Madisonian model of government).

II. Judicial Review

  • Marbury v. Madison (1803) – This case established the principle of judicial review, the power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional.
    • Issue: Does the Supreme Court have the authority to order the delivery of commission?
    • Rule: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
    • Analysis: When there is a conflict between the Constitution and a law passed by Congress, the Constitution must prevail.
    • Conclusion: The Supreme Court has the power to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional.

III. The Federal System

  • Federalism – The division of power between the federal government and the states.
  • The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) – Federal law is the “supreme Law of the Land,” overriding conflicting state law.
  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) – Confirmed the supremacy of federal over state legislature and established the implied powers of Congress.
    • Issue: Can a state tax a federal institution, and does Congress have the authority to create a national bank?
    • Rule: The Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress the power to establish a national bank. States cannot tax federal institutions.
    • Analysis: The creation of a national bank is an implied power of Congress, necessary and proper to execute its enumerated powers.
    • Conclusion: Maryland’s tax on the bank was unconstitutional, and Congress had the power to establish the bank.

IV. Legislative Powers

  • The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) – Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with Indian tribes.
  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) – Broadened the understanding of the Commerce Clause, giving wide latitude to Congressional power over interstate commerce.
    • Issue: Does Congress have exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce?
    • Rule: The Commerce Clause gives Congress exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce.
    • Analysis: Navigation falls under interstate commerce, and therefore, Congress can regulate it, invalidating conflicting state laws.
    • Conclusion: New York’s exclusive steamboat licenses were unconstitutional because they conflicted with federal law.

V. Executive Power

  • Article II – Establishes the powers and responsibilities of the President.
  • Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952) – Limited the executive power by finding that the President does not have the inherent authority to seize private property without Congressional authorization.
    • Issue: Did the President have the authority to seize steel mills during the Korean War?
    • Rule: The President does not have unlimited executive power.
    • Analysis: The seizure was not authorized by Congress and was not within the President’s powers under the Constitution.
    • Conclusion: The seizure was unconstitutional.

VI. The Bill of Rights and Later Amendments

  • The Bill of Rights – The first ten amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeing individual liberties and rights.
  • Selective Incorporation – The process by which various protections provided by the Bill of Rights have been applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

VII. Equal Protection and Due Process

  • The Fourteenth Amendment – Guarantees equal protection and due process under the law.
  • Brown v. Board of Education (1954) – Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
    • Issue: Does segregation in public schools violate the Equal Protection Clause?
    • Rule: Separate but equal facilities are inherently unequal and violate the Equal Protection Clause.
    • Analysis: Segregation in public schools creates a sense of inferiority that affects the educational opportunities of African American children.
    • Conclusion: Segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

VIII. Individual Rights in Hawaii

  • Hawaii State Constitution – While the U.S. Constitution sets the floor for individual rights, the Hawaii State Constitution can provide more expansive rights to its citizens.
  • Privacy Rights – Article I, Section 6 of the Hawaii State Constitution explicitly grants the right to privacy, which has been interpreted broadly by state courts.
  • Native Hawaiian Rights – Article XII of the Hawaii State Constitution recognizes and protects the traditional and customary rights of Native Hawaiians.

IX. Freedom of Speech and Expression

  • First Amendment – Protects the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition.
  • Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) – Established the imminent lawless action test for determining when speech protected under the First Amendment can be restricted.
    • Issue: Can the government restrict speech that advocates violence or lawbreaking?
    • Rule: The government can only restrict speech that is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
    • Analysis: The KKK’s speech did not satisfy this test.
    • Conclusion: Ohio’s criminal syndicalism law was unconstitutional as applied in this case.

X. Exam Preparation Tips

  • Understand Key Concepts: Focus on understanding rather than memorization.
  • Analyze Previous Exams: Practice with past exams to understand the format and anticipate the types of questions.
  • Review Case Law: Summarize important cases using the IRAC method to clarify your understanding.
  • Discuss with Peers: Engage in discussions or study groups to deepen your understanding of challenging material.
  • Consult Secondary Sources: Use hornbooks, treatises, or law review articles for more in-depth analysis of complex topics.
  • Time Management: Allocate study time efficiently and ensure you cover all topics with enough depth.

This study guide provides a basic framework for understanding Constitutional Law as it applies in the United States and specifically in Hawaii. Remember that this guide is a starting point, and in-depth study of each topic and case law is necessary to excel in your final exam.

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