Constitutional Law I

Case Rules

Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co.

A constitutional tax must have the object of of raising revenue, not just police power purposes.

Baker v. Carr

  • Political questions are nonjusticiable because they are for the other branches to decide.

  • Page 107–108

    Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found

    1. a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or
    2. a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or
    3. the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion; or
    4. the impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or
    5. an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or
    6. the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.

Complete Auto Transit, Inc. v. Brady

Page 347

[A] tax against Commerce Clause challenge [will be sustained] when the tax is

  1. applied to an activity with a substantial nexus with the taxing State,
  2. is fairly apportioned,
  3. does not discriminate against interstate commerce, and
  4. is fairly related to the services provided by the State.

Dean Milk Co. v. Madison

A city cannot discriminate against interstate commerce, even exercising its police power, if reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives, adequate to conserve legitimate local interests, are available.

Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority

Congress can regulate any state government function.

Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission

When a state statute conflicts with the Commerce Clause's overriding requirement of a national "common market," the competing national and local interests must be balanced.

Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife

Page 77

[T]he irreducible constitutional minimum of standing contains three elements.

  1. First, the plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact"—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is
    1. concrete and particularized; and
    2. "actual or imminent, not 'conjectural' or 'hypothetical.'"
  2. Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of—the injury has to be "fairly. . . trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court."
  3. Third, it must be "likely," as opposed to merely "speculative," that the injury will be "redressed by a favorable decision."

Marbury v. Madison

  • Marbury has a right to the job.

  • There is no remedy against officers using discretion in their executive duties, but there are legal remedies for officers not doing duties assigned them by the legislature.

  • No, the law permitting writs of mandamus is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court does not have original jurisdiction permitting it to rule on this case.

Martin v. Hunter's Lessee

The US Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over all state court cases.

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency

  • Page 89

    [A] litigant must demonstrate that it has suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is either actual or imminent, that the injury is fairly traceable to the defendant, and that it is likely that a favorable decision will redress that injury. However, a litigant to whom Congress has "accorded a procedural right to protect his concrete interests, . . . can assert that right without meeting all the normal standards for redressability and immediacy." When a litigant is vested with a procedural right, that litigant has standing if there is some possibility that the requested relief will prompt the injury-causing party to reconsider the decision that allegedly harmed the litigant.

  • Page 89, Bottom

    [T]he State has an interest independent of and behind the titles of its citizens, in all the earth and air within its domain.

McColloch v. Maryland

LexisNexis IconPage 139, Bottom

To [Congress'] enumeration of powers is added, that of making "all laws which shall be necessary and proper, for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States, or in any department thereof."

Murphy v. NCAA

Page 1477
New York v. United States

"Congress may not simply 'commandeer the legislative process of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.'"

NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp

Page 173, Near Bottom

[A]cts which directly burden or obstruct interstate or foreign commerce, or its free flow, are within the reach of the congressional power.

Nixon v. United States

Page 115, Paragraph 3

A controversy is nonjusticiable—i. e., involves a political question—where there is "a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it"

Philadelphia v. New Jersey

Page 273
Pike v. Bruce Church

"Where the statute regulates evenhandedly to effectuate a legitimate local public interest, and its effects on interstate commerce are only incidental, it will be upheld unless the burden imposed on such commerce is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits. . . . If a legitimate local purpose is found, then the question becomes one of degree. And the extent of the burden that will be tolerated will of course depend on the nature of the local interest involved, and on whether it could be promoted as well with a lesser impact on interstate activities."

South-Central Timber Development, Inc. v. Wunnicke

  • Page 314

    [I]f a State is acting as a market participant, rather than as a market regulator, the dormant Commerce Clause places no limitation on its activities.

  • Page 316

    [T]he market-participant doctrine . . . allows a State to impose burdens on commerce within the market in which it is a participant, but allows it to go no further. The State may not impose conditions, whether by statute, regulation, or contract, that have a substantial regulatory effect outside of that particular market

United Building & Construction Trades Council v. City of Camden

U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.


Page 325Rights are protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause if they are "fundamental" to the promotion of interstate harmony.


  • Public employees, like police officers

  • Quasi-public or private employees that "constitute a peculiar source of the evil at which the statute is aimed."

United States v. Butler

Congress can use its spending power neither to coerce nor to encourage compliance with a regulation that it cannot impose directly.

United States v. Kahriger

If a tax has the prospect of raising money, it is a valid tax.

United States v. Lopez

Congress has the authority to regulate any economic activity which in the aggregate has a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Page 75

Art. III requires the party who invokes the court's authority to "show that he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant," and that the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action" and "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision,"

Wickard v. Filburn

Congress has the authority to regulate any activity which in the aggregate has a substantial effect on interstate commerce.