Utah Law School 1L Study Guide for Constitutional Law


  1. Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” This means that state laws that conflict with federal laws are invalid.

Case: Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) – This case established the broad scope of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, reinforcing the Supremacy Clause.

  1. Commerce Clause

The Commerce Clause grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

Case: Wickard v. Filburn (1942) – This case expanded the Commerce Clause’s scope to include activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, even if the activity itself is local.

  1. Necessary and Proper Clause

The Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress the power to make all laws which are necessary for executing its powers.

Case: McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) – This case upheld the federal government’s implied powers under the Necessary and Proper Clause.


  1. First Amendment – Freedom of Speech

The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech.

Case: Texas v. Johnson (1989) – This case held that flag burning constitutes symbolic speech that is protected by the First Amendment.

  1. Fourth Amendment – Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Case: Katz v. United States (1967) – This case established the “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard for searches.

  1. Fourteenth Amendment – Equal Protection

The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.

Case: Brown v. Board of Education (1954) – This landmark case ruled that racial segregation in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause.


  1. Utah Constitution – Religious Freedom

Article I, Section 4 of the Utah Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, going further than the U.S. Constitution by explicitly protecting religious belief and actions.

Case: Society of Separationists, Inc. v. Whitehead (1997) – This case held that the Utah Constitution’s religious freedom clause did not prevent the state from requiring a student-led prayer before graduation ceremonies.

  1. Utah Constitution – Uniform Operation of Laws

Article I, Section 24 of the Utah Constitution requires that all laws of a general nature have uniform operation, providing a state-specific equal protection guarantee.

Case: Malan v. Lewis (1988) – This case held that a Utah law providing different treatment to different types of beer violated the uniform operation of laws clause.

This guide provides a starting point for studying Constitutional Law in Utah, but it is not exhaustive. Make sure to also review your class notes, textbook, and any additional readings or case briefs provided by your professor.

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