Idaho Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

Idaho Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law

U.S. Constitution Overview
Study the structure and text of the U.S. Constitution, including the Preamble, seven Articles, and the Amendments, with special attention to the first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Understand the framework for the federal government, federalism, and the separation of powers.

Judicial Review – Marbury v. Madison (1803)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Does the Supreme Court have the authority to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional?
Rule: Article III of the U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch and its powers.
Analysis: The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, held that it is the inherent power of the judiciary to interpret the Constitution and thereby hold legislative and executive actions void if they are contrary to the Constitution.
Conclusion: Established the principle of judicial review.

Federalism and State Powers
Study the powers of the state versus the federal government, including the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not granted to the federal government to the states or the people.

Commerce Clause – Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Does the federal government have exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce?
Rule: The Commerce Clause, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution.
Analysis: The Court, under Chief Justice Marshall, ruled that the federal government has the authority to regulate interstate commerce, and this authority is superior to state laws on the matter.
Conclusion: Broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause to give the federal government significant regulatory power over economic activities.

Separation of Powers – Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Can the President seize private property without express congressional authorization in the interest of national defense?
Rule: The President’s powers must be either derived from the Constitution or an act of Congress.
Analysis: The Court held that President Truman’s seizure of steel mills to prevent a strike during the Korean War was unconstitutional because neither the Constitution nor an act of Congress authorized such an action.
Conclusion: The Court enforced the separation of powers, limiting the executive’s authority.

Individual Rights and Liberties
Familiarize with the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments that protect individual liberties. Focus on the First Amendment freedoms, including speech, religion, and assembly, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

First Amendment – Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Can the government punish inflammatory speech that is not likely to incite lawless action?
Rule: The First Amendment protects freedom of speech.
Analysis: The Court held that the government can only restrict speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
Conclusion: Established the two-part test for speech that can be regulated by the government.

Due Process Clause – Lochner v. New York (1905)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Does a state law limiting work hours violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause?
Rule: The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
Analysis: The Court struck down a New York law that limited the working hours of bakers, ruling that it interfered with the freedom of contract, and thus was not a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power.
Conclusion: Introduced the concept of substantive due process, which was later used to evaluate the protection of various individual rights against state action.

Equal Protection Clause – Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Does racial segregation in public schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
Rule: The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Analysis: The Court held that “separate but equal” facilities are inherently unequal and violate the Equal Protection Clause.
Conclusion: Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and ordered the desegregation of schools, profoundly impacting the civil rights movement.

Idaho State Constitution
Understand the specific provisions of the Idaho State Constitution, which may differ from the federal Constitution. Consider how state constitutional law interacts with federal law and impacts the rights of Idaho residents.

State Constitutional Law – Idaho State Police v. Wright (1987)
IRAC Summary:
Issue: Does a state law enforcement practice violate the Idaho Constitution even if it does not violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
Rule: Article I, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution regarding search and seizure.
Analysis: The Idaho Supreme Court held that the protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in the Idaho Constitution can be more expansive than those provided by the Fourth Amendment.
Conclusion: Idaho has its own constitutional standards which can provide greater protection to individuals than the U.S. Constitution.

Studying the above cases and concepts will provide a strong foundation for a 1L Constitutional Law exam. Ensure to understand not only the federal constitutional framework but also how the Idaho Constitution may afford different or additional protections to its residents. Beyond these cases, be prepared to analyze hypothetical scenarios using the IRAC method, demonstrating an understanding of how constitutional principles are applied in various legal contexts.

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