New York City Transit Authority v. Beazer

Brief Fact Summary.

The respondent contends that the New York City Transit Authority’s refusal to employ persons who use methadone violates the Equal Protection Clause.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

If a policy does not circumscribe a class of persons characterized by some unpopular trait or affiliation, it does not create or reflect any special likelihood of bias on the part of the ruling majority.

 

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NLRB v. Noel Canning

Brief Fact Summary.

While the Senate was in recess pursuant to a resolution providing for a recess with sessions twice a week, the President made appointments that would ordinarily require the advice and consent of the Senate.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Recess Appointments Clause applies to intra-session recesses of the Senate and to vacancies that come into existence while the Senate is in session, but the Senate is in session whenever it says it is in session and can retain the capacity to transact Senate business, according to its own rules.

 

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NFIB v. Sebelius (on the Spending Clause)

Brief Fact Summary.

The ACA required the states to expand their Medicaid coverage or risk losing all of their federal Medicaid funding.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Medicaid expansion provision of the ACA was not a valid exercise of Congress’ authority under the Spending Clause because they were impermissibly coercive. Relevant factors to this analysis were (1) the extent of the cost to the states, (2) whether the policy change is a shift in kind or degree, and (3) whether states could have anticipated the policy change.

 

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NFIB v. Sebelius (on the Commerce Clause)

Brief Fact Summary.

Congress passed a law requiring individuals to maintain health care.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was an invalid exercise of the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. By requiring individuals to purchase health insurance, the government was not regulating commerce, but creating it.

 

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Morrison v. Olson

Brief Fact Summary.

Title VI of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 allowed for the creation of a Special division—a special court—to appoint independent counsel to investigate and prosecute certain high-ranking Government officials for violations of federal criminal laws.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

  • An “inferior officer” under the Appointments Clause is one who (1) is subject to removal by a higher executive branch official; (2) can only perform certain limited duties; (3)  is limited in jurisdiction, and (4) limited in tenure.
  • Congress can place the power to appoint inferior officers outside the Executive Branch.
  • Under certain circumstances, Congress may vest a special court with some jurisdiction over the removal of federal officers.a

 

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Moore v. City of East Cleveland, Ohio

Brief Fact Summary.

East Cleveland’s housing ordinance, like many throughout the country, limits occupancy of a dwelling unit to members of a single family. But the ordinance contains an unusual and complicated definitional section that recognizes a family only a few categories of related individuals. Because her family, living together in her home, fits none of those categories, appellant stands convicted of a criminal offense.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.

 

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Medellin v. Texas

Citation. 552 U.S 491 (2008)

Brief Fact Summary.

The International Court of Justice held that 51 Mexican nationals convicted and sentenced in Texas state courts were entitled to review of their convictions under the Vienna Convention. A Texas law barred subsequent habeas corpus petitions. In light of the ICJ’s order, the President issued a memorandum ordering state courts to give effect to the ICJ holding.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The President does not have the unilateral authority to make the treaty obligations of a non-self-executing treaty binding upon domestic courts.

 

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McCulloch v. Maryland

Citation. 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819)

Brief Fact Summary.

Congress established a federal bank, and Maryland passed a law that imposed a tax on that bank’s branch in Maryland.

 

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Congress has the authority to establish a federal bank. States may not tax the federal bank.

 

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McBurney v. Young

Brief Fact Summary.

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act granted citizens of Virginia the right to inspect and copy all public records. It did not grant this right to citizens of other states.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The citizens-only provision of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not violate the Constitution. States may grant their own citizens the right to access public records without granting that same right to citizens of other states. The right to access public information is not a fundamental privilege protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The right to pursue a common calling, the right to own and transfer property, and the right to access the courts are fundamental privileges that are protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause.a

 

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Mathews v. Eldridge

Brief Fact Summary.

Respondent Eldridge challenged the constitutional validity of the administrative procedures established by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare for assessing whether there exists a continuing disability.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Procedural due process imposes constraints on governmental decisions which deprive individuals of liberty or property interests within the meaning of the Due Process of the Fifth Amendment.

 

 

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Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee

Citation. 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816)

Brief Fact Summary.

In a land dispute case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The Court of Appeals refused to obey the Supreme Court ruling, arguing that the Supreme Court did not have appellate jurisdiction over state courts.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The U.S. Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state courts. The federal law establishing this jurisdiction—Section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789—was not unconstitutional.

 

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Marbury v. Madison

Citation. 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803)

Brief Fact Summary.

Secretary of state James Madison failed to deliver commissions to individuals appointed to justice of the peace positions by the previous administration.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review.

 

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Loving v. Virginia

Brief Fact Summary.

The petitioner is an African American woman and married a white man in the District of Columbia. They moved to Virginia, where they were convicted of violating Virginia’s criminal ban on miscegenation.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate.

 

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Lochner v. New York

Brief Fact Summary.

The petitioner had been indicted under the New York statute – no employee shall be required or permitted to work in a biscuit, bread or cake bakery more than sixty hours in any one week or more than ten hours in any one day – and claimed it violated the Due Process Clause.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The state has the power to prevent the individual from making certain kinds of contracts, and in regard to them the Federal Constitution offers no protection. If the contract be one which the state has the right to prohibit, it is not prevented from prohibiting it by the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

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Lawrence v. Texas

Brief Fact Summary.

The petitioners, two adult males, were arrested and convicted when the police saw them engaging in a private, consensual sexual act.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places.

 

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Katzenbach v. Morgan

Brief Fact Summary.

Appellees, registered voters in New York City, challenged the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 insofar as it prohibits the enforcement of the election laws of New York requiring an ability to read and write English as a condition of voting.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

If a statute is viewed as a measure to secure for the Puerto Rican community residing in New York nondiscriminatory treatment by government – both in the imposition of voting qualifications and the provision or administration of governmental services, such as public schools, public housing and law enforcement – it is valid.

 

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Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways

Brief Fact Summary.

Appellee Consolidated challenged an Iowa statute that prohibits the use of certain large trucks within the State alleging that it unconstitutionally burdens interstate commerce.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Commerce Clause does not invalidate all state restrictions on commerce. Those who would challenge such bona fide safety regulations must overcome a strong presumption of validity.

 

 

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Johnson v. California

Brief Fact Summary.

The petitioner challenged the California Department of Corrections’ practice of racially segregating prisoners in double cells in reception centers for up to 60 days each time they enter a new correctional facility.

 

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

All racial classifications must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate.

 

 

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INS v. Chadha

Brief Fact Summary.

§ 244(c)(2) allowed the House of Representatives to unilaterally veto the Attorney General’s deportation recommentations.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The House of Representatives cannot unilaterally veto deportation suspensions, because such vetos are exercises of legislative power, and they bipass the Constitutional requirements of bicameralism and presentment. These vetos were exercises of legislative power because the altered the legal rights, duties, and status of individuals outside of the legislative branch; they achieved something that could be achieved through legislation; and they involved policy determinations.

 

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Home Building v. Loan Association v. Blaisdell

Brief Fact Summary.

The judicial order extending the period of redemption from a foreclosure sale granted to the appellee was rejected under the newly adopted Act by Minnesota. The appellee, a mortgagee, was unable to obtain possession as it would have been able to do before the enactment of the statute.

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Any reserved state power must be consistent with the fair intent of the constitutional limitation of that power and that power cannot be construed so as to destroy the limitation, nor is the limitation to be construed to destroy the reserved power in its essential aspects.

 

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Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States

Brief Fact Summary.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel refused to rent rooms to Black people in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Congress can prohibit hotels and motels from racially discriminating against patrons pursuant to the Commerce Clause.  Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not violate the Constitution.

 

 

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