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- those that the consitution expressly grants
- article 1 section 8
- those that may be infered from power expresssly granted
- article 1 sextion 8, clause 18 the necessary and proper clause
those powers that do not depend on consitutional grants but grow out of the very existence of the ntional government
amendment enforcing powers
- those powers contained in some consitutional amendments that provide congress with the ability to enforce them
- amendment 13, 14 and 15th approporate legislation
powell v mccormack
had to do with the requirments for officer which are in section 2 of article 1
Facts of the Case
- Adam Clayton Powell pecked at his fellow
- representatives from his unassailable perch in New York's Harlem. Powell
- had been embroiled in controversy inside and outside Washington. When
- Powell failed to heed civil proceedings against him in New York, a judge
- held him in criminal contempt. His problems were only beginning. He won
- reelection in 1966 but the House of Representatives voted to exclude
- May the House of Representatives exclude a duly
- elected member if the member has satisfied the standing requirements of
- age, citizenship and residence as articulated in Article I Section 2 of
- the U.S. Constitution?
- answer- no
- * remember that section 5 which states that each house shall be the judge of the elections reutnr and qualifications of ots own members does not mean anything here
Us term limits v thornton
Facts of the Case
- On November 3, 1992, Arkansas voters adopted
- Amendment 73 to their State Constitution. The "Term Limitation
- Amendment," in addition to limiting terms of elected officials within
- the Arkansas state government, also provided that any person who served
- three or more terms as a member of the United States House of
- Representatives from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a
- US Representative from Arkansas. Similarly, the Amendment provided that
- any person who served two or more terms as a member of the United States
- Senate from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a US
- Senator from Arkansas.
Can states alter those qualifications for the U.S. Congress that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution?
- No. The Constitution prohibits States from adopting Congressional
- qualifications in addition to those enumerated in the Constitution. A
- state congressional term limits amendment is unconstitutional if it has
- the likely effect of handicapping a class of candidates and "has the
- sole purpose of creating additional qualifications indirectly."
- Furthermore, "...allowing individual States to craft their own
- congressional qualifications would erode the structure designed by the
- Framers to form a 'more perfect Union.'"
speech or debate clause
article 1 section 6
gravel v. united states
Facts of the Case
- In 1971, Senator Mike Gravel received a copy of
- the Pentagon Papers: a set of classified documents concerning U.S.
- involvement in the Vietnam war. Gravel then introduced the study, in its
- entirety, into the record of a Senate Subcommittee meeting. Gravel also
- arranged for the private publication of the papers by the Beacon Press.
- A federal grand jury subpoenaed Leonard Rodberg, one of Gravel's aides,
- to testify about his role in the acquisition and publication of the
Did the subpoena of Senator Gravel's aide violate the Speech and Debate Clause of Article I of the Constitution?
- Yes. The Court held that because the work of aides was critical to the
- performance of legislative tasks and duties, they were nothing less than
- legislators' "alter egos" and thus immune from subpoenas by the Speech
- and Debate Clause. Aides were exempted from grand jury questioning so
- long as Senators invoked the privilege on their behalf. Moreover, the
- Court held that the protections of the Speech and Debate Clause did not
- extend beyond the legislative sphere, ruling that Senator Gravel's
- arrangements with the Beacon Press were not constitutionally protected.
mcculloch vs. maryland
- under implied powers
- Maryland (P) enacted a statute imposing a tax on all banks operating
- in Maryland not chartered by the state. The statute provided that all
- such banks were prohibited from issuing bank notes except upon stamped
- paper issued by the state. The statute set forth the fees to be paid for
- the paper and established penalties for violations.
- The Second Bank of the United States was established pursuant to an
- 1816 act of Congress. McCulloch (D), the cashier of the Baltimore branch
- of the Bank of the United States, issued bank notes without complying
- with the Maryland law. Maryland sued McCulloch for failing to pay the
- taxes due under the Maryland statute and McCulloch contested the
- constitutionality of that act. The state court found for Maryland and
- McCulloch appealed.
- Does Congress have the power under the Constitution to incorporate a
- bank, even though that power is not specifically enumerated within the
- Constitution?Does the State of Maryland have the power to tax an institution
- created by Congress pursuant to its powers under the Constitution?
- Holding and Rule (Marshall)
- Yes. Congress has power under the Constitution to incorporate a bank
- pursuant to the Necessary and Proper clause (Article I, section 8).No. The State of Maryland does not have the power to tax an
- institution created by Congress pursuant to its powers under the
- The Government of the Union, though limited in its powers, is supreme
- within its sphere of action, and its laws, when made in pursuance of
- the Constitution, form the supreme law of the land. There is nothing in
- the Constitution which excludes incidental or implied powers. If the end
- be legitimate, and within the scope of the Constitution, all the means
- which are appropriate and plainly adapted to that end, and which are not
- prohibited, may be employed to carry it into effect pursuant to the
- Necessary and Proper clause.
mcgrain v. daugherty
Facts of the Case
- This case was a challenge to Daugherty's contempt
- conviction. He failed to appear before a Senate committee investigating
- the failure of Daugherty's brother (Harry Daugherty, the former
- Attorney General)to prosecute wrongdoers in the Teapot Dome scandal.
- Was the Senate committee out-of-bounds in issuing
- its contempt order since the purpose of the investigation had nothing
- to do with the committee's legislative purpose?
- The Court upheld Daugherty's contempt conviction,
- establishing a presumption that congressional investigations have a
- legislative purpose. This presumption was not overcome by showing that
- the committee also had another purpose, such as exposure of wrongdoing.
- This presumption would later restrict the Court's hand in clear cases of
- congressional overreaching while investigating communists after World
- War II.
watkins v. united states
Facts of the Case
- In 1954, John Watkins, a labor organizer, was
- called upon to testify in hearings conducted by the House Committee on
- Un-American Activities. Watkins agreed to describe his alleged
- connections with the Communist Party and to identify current members of
- the Party. Watkins refused to give information concerning individuals
- who had left the Communist Party. Watkins argued that such questions
- were beyond the authority of the Committee.
- Did the activities of the Un-American Activities Committee constitute an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power?
- In a 6-to-1 decision, the Court held that the activities of the House
- Committee were beyond the scope of congressional power. The Court held
- that both the authorizing resolution of the Committee and the specific
- statements made by the Committee to Watkins failed to limit the
- Committee's power. The Court found that because Watkins had not been
- given sufficient information describing the pertinency of the questions
- to the subjects under inquiry, he had not been accorded a fair
- opportunity to determine whether he was within his rights in refusing to
- answer. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment thus invalidated
- Watkins' conviction.
Barenblatt v. United States
Facts of the Case
- During hearings of the House Committee on
- Un-American Activities, Lloyd Barenblatt, a university professor,
- refused to answer questions concerning his political and religious
- beliefs along with his associational activities. He was found in
- contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the committee
- Did the House Committee's investigation into
- Barenblatt's affiliations with the Communist Party transgress his First
- Amendment protections which limit congressional inquiries?
- The divided Court found that the Committee's actions did not violate the
- First Amendment and, thus, upheld Barenblatt's conviction for contempt
- of Congress. Justice Harlan noted that the First Amendment does not
- protect a witness from all lines of questioning. As long as the
- Congressional inquiry is pursued to "aid the legislative process" and to
- protect important government interests, then it is legitimate.
united states v. Curtiss Wright exxport
Facts of the Case
- Curtiss-Wright was charged with conspiring to
- sell fifteen machine guns to Bolivia, which was engaged in an armed
- conflict in the Chaco. This violated a Joint Resolution of Congress and a
- proclamation issued by President Roosevelt.
Did Congress in its Joint Resolution unconstitutionally delegate legislative power to the President?
- The Court agreed that the President was allowed much room to operate in
- executing the Joint Resolution; it found no constitutional violation.
- Making important distinctions between internal and foreign affairs,
- Justice Sutherland argued because "the President alone has the power to
- speak or listen as a representative of the nation," Congress may provide
- the President with a special degree of discretion in external matters
- which would not be afforded domestically.
south carolina v. katzenach
amenmdnet enforcing power
Facts of the Case
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prevented states
- from using a "test or device" (such as literacy tests) to deny citizens
- the right to vote. Federal examiners, under the Attorney General's
- jurisdiction, were empowered to intervene to investigate election
Did the Act violate the states' rights to implement and control elections?
- Court upheld the law. Noting that the enforcement clause of the
- Fifteenth Amendment gave Congress "full remedial powers" to prevent
- racial discrimination in voting, the Act was a "legitimate response" to
- the "insidious and pervasive evil" which had denied blacks the right to
- vote since the Fifteenth Amendment's adoption in 1870.
govern the case to which they both apply.No. Congress cannot expand the scope of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction beyond what is specified in Article III of the Constitution.
- The Constitution states that “the Supreme Court shall have original
- jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers
- and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party. In all other
- cases, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction.” If it had
- been intended to leave it in the discretion of the Legislature to
- apportion the judicial power between the Supreme and inferior courts
- according to the will of that body, this section is mere surplusage and
- is entirely without meaning. If Congress remains at liberty to give this
- court appellate jurisdiction where the Constitution has declared their
- jurisdiction shall be original, and original jurisdiction where the
- Constitution has declared it shall be appellate, the distribution of
- jurisdiction made in the Constitution, is form without substance.No. The Supreme Court does not have original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus.To
- enable this court then to issue a mandamus, it must be shown to be an
- exercise of appellate jurisdiction, or to be necessary to enable them to
- exercise appellate jurisdiction.It is the essential criterion
- of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects the proceedings
- in a cause already instituted, and does not create that case. Although,
- therefore, a mandamus may be directed to courts, yet to issue such a
- writ to an officer for the delivery of a paper is, in effect, the same
- as to sustain an original action for that paper, and is therefore a
- matter of original jurisdiction.
Martin v. Hunter lessee
- The state of Virginia enacted legislation during the Revolutionary
- War that gave the State the power to confiscate the property of British
- Loyalists. Hunter was given a grant of land by the State. Denny Martin
- held the land under devise from Lord Thomas Fairfax.
- In an action in ejectment, the trial court found in favor of Martin
- and the court of appeals (the highest Virginia state court) reversed.
- The Supreme Court of the United States reversed in favor of Martin,
- holding that the treaty with England superseded the state statute, and
- remanded the case to the Virginia court of appeals to enter judgment for
- Martin. The Virginia court refused, asserting that the appellate power
- of the U.S. Supreme Court did not extend to judgments from the Virginia
- court of appeals.
- Does the U.S. Supreme Court have appellate jurisdiction over state court decisions involving federal law?
- Holding and Rule
- Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court decisions involving federal law.
- The federal power was given directly by the people and not by the
- States. Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states
- that “in all other cases before mentioned the Supreme Court shall have
- appellate jurisdiction”. This demonstrates a textual commitment to allow
- Supreme Court review of state decisions.
- If the Supreme Court could not review decisions from the highest
- State courts, the state courts necessarily would be excluded from
- hearing cases involving questions of federal law. It had already been
- established that state courts have the power to rule on issues of
- federal law, and therefore the Supreme Court must be able to review
- those decisions. The Court also held that the Supremacy Clause states
- that the federal interpretation trumps the states’ interpretation.
- The Court rejected concerns regarding state judicial sovereignty. The
- Supreme Court could already review state executive and legislative
- decisions and this case was no different. Story then confronted the
- arguments that state judges were bound to uphold the Constitution just
- as federal judges were, and so denying state interpretations presumed
- that the state judges would less than faithfully interpret the
- Constitution. The Court stated that the issue did not concern bias;
- rather, it concerned the need for uniformity in federal law. The Supreme
- Court concluded that the decision by the Virginia court of appeals was
- in error.
judical review and controversies
- framers intent
- judical restraint
- democratic checks
- protecting minrotity rights
- judical supremacy
- public opinion
Eakin v. Raub
important only because of justice gibsons dissen againt marbury v. madision
contraints on judicail power
ex parte mccardle
- After the Civil War, Congress imposed military government on many
- former Confederate States by authority of the Civil War Reconstruction
- Acts. McCardle (D) was a Mississippi newspaper editor held in military
- custody on charges of publishing libelous and inflammatory articles.
- McCardle filed a habeas corpus writ claiming that Congress lacked
- authority under the Constitution to establish a system of military
- government. The Act authorized federal courts to grant habeas corpus to
- persons held in violation of their constitutional rights and granted the
- Supreme Court the authority to hear appeals.
- The circuit court denied McCardle’s habeas corpus writ but the
- Supreme Court sustained jurisdiction to hear an appeal on the merits.
- After arguments were heard however, Congress passed an act on March 27,
- 1868, repealing the portion of the 1867 Act that allowed an appeal to
- the Supreme Court and the exercise by the Supreme Court of jurisdiction
- on any such appeals, past or present.
- Does Congress have the power to make exceptions to the Supreme
- Court’s appellate jurisdiction in cases in which it has already granted
- jurisdiction?Must the Court always first determine if it is has jurisdiction to review a case?
- Holding and Rule (Chase)
- Yes. The Constitution gives the Supreme Court appellate
- jurisdiction, but it gives Congress the express power to make exceptions
- to that appellate jurisdiction.Yes. The Court must always determine first if it is has jurisdiction to review a case.
- The court held that appellate jurisdiction of the Court is not
- derived from acts of Congress, but from the Constitution, and is
- conferred with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress
- shall make. The court held that when Congress enacts legislation that
- grants the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction over final decisions in
- certain cases, it operates as a negation or exception of such
- jurisdiction in other cases.
- In this case, the repeal of the act necessarily removed jurisdiction.
- Without jurisdiction, the Court cannot proceed; the only thing it can
- do is announce that fact and dismiss the cause of action. When a
- legislative act is repealed, it is as if it had never existed except in
- transactions past and closed. Thus, no judgment can be rendered in a
- suit after repeal of the act under which it was brought.
- advsiory opinons
- collusive suits
- political question
Muskrat v. united states
- Congress passed an act that conferred original jurisdiction the Court
- of Claims and appellate jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to determine
- the validity of certain acts of Congress (i.e. to issue advisory
- opinions). The Congressional acts related to the distribution and
- allotment of lands and funds to members of the Cherokee Indian tribe.
- Muskrat and the other plaintiffs in this case brought suit in the
- Court of Claims seeking a declaration that Congressional acts of 1904
- and 1906 were unconstitutional, and that an earlier (and more favorable)
- act of July 1902 was controlling. The Court of Claims sustained the
- validity of the acts of 1904 and 1906 and dismissed the petitions and
- the Supreme Court granted certiorari.
- What is the scope of the “judicial power” conferred by the Constitution upon the Supreme Court?May Congress expand the jurisdiction of the federal courts by empowering them to issue advisory opinions?
- Holding and Rule (Day)
- The judicial power is limited to “cases and controversies”, i.e. the
- claims of litigants brought before the courts for the protection or
- enforcement of rights, or the prevention, redress, or punishment of
- wrongs.No. Congress may not expand the jurisdiction of the judiciary by empowering it to issue advisory opinions.
- As per Marbury v. Madison,
- neither the legislative nor the executive branch can assign to the
- judicial branch any duties other than those that are properly judicial
- and to be performed in a judicial manner. Under the Constitution,
- judicial power is limited to cases and controversies. A case or
- controversy implies the existence of present or possible adverse parties
- whose contentions are submitted to the court for adjudication.
- Congress does not have the power to provide for a suit of this nature
- to be brought in federal court to test the constitutionality of prior
- acts of Congress because such a suit is not a case or controversy. This
- court has no veto power over legislation enacted by Congress, and its
- right to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional can only be
- exercised when a proper case between opposing parties is submitted for
defunis v. odegaard
- Petitioner DeFunis, a white applicant to the University of Washington
- law school, sued the Board of Regents of the University of Washington
- in state court after he was denied admission. DeFunis alleged that the
- law school discriminated against applicants of certain races and
- ethnicities, including whites, by admitting minority applicants with
- significantly lower undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. DeFunis
- maintained that his rejection was predicated on racial discrimination in
- violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- The District Court granted DeFunis injunctive relief and ordered the
- law school to admit him. When DeFunis was in his second year of law
- school, the Supreme Court of Washington reversed, holding that the
- admissions policy was not unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the
- United States granted DeFunis’ petition for a writ of certiorari and
- stayed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Washington pending final
- disposition of the case.
- The case came before the Supreme Court of the United States for a
- full hearing when DeFunis was in his final year of law school. Although
- the law school assured that it would allow DeFunis to graduate
- regardless of the Court’s decision, both parties contended that mootness
- did not exist to block formal adjudication of the matter.
- Can a case be adjudicated when subject matter jurisdiction is
- lacking due to mootness, if adjudication of the suit would resolve an
- important social issue?
- Holding and Rule
- No. When a federal court’s determination of a legal issue is no
- longer necessary to compel the result originally sought, the case is
- moot and federal courts lack the power to hear it.
- The constitutional basis of the mootness doctrine is found in Article
- III of the Constitution which requires the existence of a case or
- controversy. Thus, a real and live controversy must exist at every stage
- of review.
- The court held that when the original controversy has disappeared
- prior to development of the suit, it is deemed moot and a trial must not
- proceed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. That a matter deemed
- moot leaves an important social issue unresolved is of no consequence.
united public workers v. mitchell
longshoremens union v. boyd
- The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 involved the status of
- aliens residing within the United States. The International
- Longshoremen’s Local 37 labor union and a number of its members sued to
- enjoin Boyd, District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization
- Service (INS), from construing the Act as to treat all aliens domiciled
- within the continental United States returning from temporary work in
- Alaska as if they were aliens entering the country for the first time.
- The plaintiffs also sought a declaratory judgment that the Act is
- unconstitutional. Plaintiffs did not show that any sanctions had been
- sought against any union members or that any of the proposed
- hypothetical situations had yet arisen.
- The District Court dismissed the lawsuit on the merits and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.
- May a party seek a declaratory judgment regarding the scope or
- constitutionality of a statute before a concrete case has arisen to
- which the statute may apply?
- Holding and Rule (Frankfurter)
- No. A party may not seek a declaratory judgment regarding a statute
- if no sanctions have been sought under the statute and no occasion for
- doing so has arisen.
- The Longshoremen’s Union in effect asked the District Court to rule
- that a statute would not be applied to them under certain circumstances
- in the future, when no sanctions had been sought against union members
- and there was no occasion for doing so. That is not a lawsuit to enforce
- a right; it is an effort to obtain assurance from a court that a
- statute will or will not apply under certain hypothetical situations.
- Determination of the scope and constitutionality of a law before a
- concrete case exists involves an inquiry that is too remote and abstract
- for a court to resolve. The complaint does not present a case or
- controversy and must therefore be dismissed.
luther v. borden
Facts of the Case
- In 1841, Rhode Island was still operating under
- an archaic system of government established by a royal charter of 1663.
- The charter strictly limited suffrage and made no provision for
- amendment. Dissident groups, protesting the charter, held a popular
- convention to draft a new constitution and to elect a governor. The old
- charter government declared martial law and put down the rebellion,
- although no federal troops were sent. One of the insurgents, Martin
- Luther, brought suit claiming the old government was not "a republican
- form of government" and all its acts were thereby invalid.
Did the Court have the constitutional authority to declare which group constituted the official government of Rhode Island?
- The Court held that "the power of determining
- that a state government has been lawfully established" did not belong to
- federal courts, and that it was not the function of such courts to
- prescribe the qualifications for voting in the States. The Court held
- that the creation of republican forms of government and the control of
- domestic violence were matters of an essentially political nature
- committed by the Constitution to the other branches of government.
- Hence, the Court should defer to Congress and the President when
- confronted with such issues.
colegrove v green
Facts of the Case
- Kenneth W. Colegrove, a citizen of Illinois and a
- Northwestern University political scientist, brought suit against
- Illinois officials to enjoin them from holding an upcoming election.
- Colegrove argued that the congressional districts "lacked compactness of
- territory and approximate equality of population."
Did the Illinois congressional districts unconstitutionally violate principles of fair apportionment?
- The Court held that the Illinois districts were
- constitutional, largely because existing laws imposed no requirements
- "as to the compactness, contiguity and equality in population of
- districts." In a plurality opinion, Frankfurter declined to involve the
- Court in the districting process, arguing that the political nature of
- apportionment precluded judicial intervention. "The remedy for
- unfairness in districting is to secure State legislatures that will
- apportion properly, or to invoke the ample powers of Congress."
baker v. carr
- Charles Baker (P) was a resident of Shelby County, Tennessee. Baker
- filed suit against Joe Carr, the Secretary of State of Tennessee.
- Baker’s complaint alleged that the Tennessee legislature had not redrawn
- its legislative districts since 1901, in violation of the Tennessee
- State Constitution which required redistricting according to the federal
- census every 10 years. Baker, who lived in an urban part of the state,
- asserted that the demographics of the state had changed shifting a
- greater proportion of the population to the cities, thereby diluting his
- vote in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
- Baker sought an injunction prohibiting further elections, and sought
- the remedy of reapportionment or at-large elections. The district court
- denied relief on the grounds that the issue of redistricting posed a
- political question and would therefore not be heard by the court.
- Do federal courts have jurisdiction to hear a constitutional challenge to a legislative apportionment?What is the test for resolving whether a case presents a political question?
- Holding and Rule (Brennan)
- Yes. Federal courts have jurisdiction to hear a constitutional challenge to a legislative apportionment.The factors to be considered by the court in determining whether a case presents a political question are:
- Is there a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the
- issue to a coordinate political department (i.e. foreign affairs or
- executive war powers)?Is there a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the issue?The impossibility of deciding the issue without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion.The impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution
- without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of
- government.Is there an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made?Would attempting to resolve the matter create the possibility of
- embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on
- one question?
- The political question doctrine is based in the separation of powers
- and whether a case is justiciable is determined on a case by cases
- basis. In regards to foreign relations, if there has been no conclusive
- governmental action regarding an issue then a court can construe a
- treaty and decide a case. Regarding the dates of the duration of
- hostilities, when there needs to be definable clarification for a
- decision, the court may be able to decide the case
- The court held that this case was justiciable and did not present a
- political question. The case did not present an issue to be decided by
- another branch of the government. The court noted that judicial
- standards under the Equal Protection Clause were well developed and
- familiar, and it had been open to courts since the enactment of the
- Fourteenth Amendment to determine if an act is arbitrary and capricious
- and reflects no policy. When a question is enmeshed with any of the
- other two branches of the government, it presents a political question
- and the Court will not answer it without further clarification from the
- other branches.
nixon v. united states
Facts of the Case
- Walter Nixon, a Federal District Judge, was
- convicted of a felony, making false statements to a grand jury. The
- House of Representatives voted three articles of impeachment;
- impeachment in the Senate followed. In accordance with Senate Rule XI, a
- Senate committee heard the evidence and reported its findings. The full
- Senate convicted Nixon and sought to remove him from office. Nixon
- challenged Senate Rule XI in federal court on the ground that the rule
- violated the impeachment clause of the Constitution, which declares that
- "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." The
- lower courts deemed the issue nonjusticiable and declined to intervene
- in the dispute.
- Is Nixon's claim -- that Senate Rule XI violates
- the Impeachment Trial Clause -- justiciable, i.e., appropriate for
- judicial resolution?
- No. A unanimous Court held that the question of whether or not the
- Senate rule violated the U.S. Constitution was nonjusticiable since the
- Impeachment clause expressly granted that the "Senate shall have sole
- Power to try any impeachments." The clause laid out specific regulations
- that were to be followed and as long as those guidelines were observed
- the courts would not rule upon the validity of other Senate procedures
- regarding impeachments. Chief Justice William Rehnquist observed that
- while the Supreme Court was the "ultimate intrepreter of the
- Constitution," a matter would be deemed nonjusticiable when there was "a
- constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political
flast v. cohen
Facts of the Case
- Florence Flast and a group of taxpayers
- challenged federal legislation that financed the purchase of secular
- textbooks for use in religious schools. Flast argued that such use of
- tax money violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A
- district court held that the federal courts should defer when confronted
- with taxpayer suits directed against federal spending programs.
- Did Flast, as a taxpayer, have standing to sue the government's spending program
- In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court rejected the government's argument that
- the constitutional scheme of separation of powers barred taxpayer suits
- against federal taxing and spending programs. In order to prove a
- "requisite personal stake" in such cases, taxpayers had to 1) establish a
- logical link between their status as taxpayers and the type of
- legislative enactment attacked, and 2) show the challenged enactment
- exceeded specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise
- of Congressional taxing and spending power. The Court held that Flast
- had met both parts of the test.