Missouri Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law
I. Introduction to Constitutional Law
A. Constitution Overview
Concept Summary: The U.S. Constitution establishes the framework of the federal government and enumerates rights and liberties. It is the supreme law of the land.
Applicable Law: Articles I-III outline the structure of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments detail individual rights and liberties.
II. Judicial Review
A. Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Issue: Whether the Supreme Court has the authority to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.
Rule: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any law that is in conflict is null and void.
Analysis: The Court concluded that it had the power of judicial review to strike down laws conflicting with the Constitution.
Conclusion: Established the principle of judicial review.
III. Federalism and the Separation of Powers
A. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Issue: Whether the federal government has the implied powers to create a national bank and whether a state can tax a federal entity.
Rule: The Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress implied powers, and states cannot impede valid constitutional exercises of power by the federal government.
Analysis: The Court upheld broad congressional power and the supremacy of federal law over state law.
Conclusion: Affirmed the doctrine of implied powers and federal supremacy.
B. Missouri Compromise
Concept Summary: An act of Congress in 1820 admitting Missouri as a state and prohibiting slavery in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory; eventually declared unconstitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford.
IV. Congressional Powers
A. Commerce Clause
Concept Summary: Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states, with foreign nations, and with the Native American tribes.
B. Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Issue: The extent of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.
Rule: The Commerce Clause grants Congress the power to regulate all aspects of interstate commerce.
Analysis: The Court broadly defined commerce and established federal primacy in regulating interstate commerce.
Conclusion: Strengthened the federal government’s ability to regulate economic activity.
C. Necessary and Proper Clause
Concept Summary: Also known as the Elastic Clause, it grants Congress the power to pass all laws necessary and proper for carrying out the enumerated list of powers.
V. The Executive Branch
A. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
Issue: Whether the President has the inherent power to seize private property without explicit congressional authorization.
Rule: The President’s power must stem from an act of Congress or the Constitution.
Analysis: The Court found no congressional statute or constitutional provision that authorized the President to seize the steel mills.
Conclusion: Limited the executive power by asserting that the President could not take unilateral action contrary to the will of Congress.
B. War Powers
Concept Summary: The Constitution divides war powers between Congress (which can declare war) and the President (who is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces).
VI. The Legislative Branch
A. Bicameralism and Presentment
Concept Summary: The requirement that for a bill to become law, it must pass both houses of Congress in identical form and then be presented to the President for approval or veto.
VII. The Judicial Branch
A. Justiciability: Standing, Mootness, and Ripeness
Concept Summary: Justiciability doctrines limit the issues that federal courts can decide, requiring an actual case or controversy, a personal stake in the outcome, and that the issue is not moot or prematurely brought before the court.
VIII. Individual Rights
A. The Bill of Rights
Concept Summary: The first ten amendments to the Constitution, which guarantee fundamental rights and protections to individuals.
B. Selective Incorporation
Concept Summary: The process by which the Supreme Court has applied portions of the Bill of Rights to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
C. Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause
Concept Summary: The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and protects the free exercise of religion.
IX. Equal Protection and Due Process
A. Fourteenth Amendment
Concept Summary: Provides that no state shall deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws or deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
B. Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Issue: Whether state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students deny black children the equal protection of the laws.
Rule: Racial segregation in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause.
Analysis: The Court held that “separate but equal” facilities are inherently unequal and unconstitutional.
Conclusion: Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and began the process of desegregation in schools.
C. Missouri’s Hancock Amendment
Concept Summary: A provision in the Missouri Constitution designed to limit the growth of state revenue and expenditure without voter approval, affecting the balance between direct democracy and legislative authority in Missouri.
X. Rights of the Accused
A. Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Issue: Whether the prosecution may use statements arising from a custodial interrogation of a suspect without first providing certain warnings.
Rule: The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of their rights to remain silent and to obtain an attorney.
Analysis: Suspects must be informed of their rights to avoid self-incrimination and to counsel.
Conclusion: Established the Miranda warnings as a safeguard to ensure the rights of the accused are protected.
XI. Final Exam Preparation
Ensure understanding of key concepts, amendments, and case law.
Review and summarize landmark cases using the IRAC format.
Analyze Missouri-specific constitutional provisions and cases.
Practice writing clear and concise legal arguments.
Study in groups to discuss and clarify complex topics.
Utilize practice exams to test knowledge and exam strategy.