We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Unit 2 Court Cases

Baker v. Carr (1962)
Facts of the Case:
Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state's general assembly was virtually ignored. Baker's suit detailed how Tennessee's reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.

Question:
Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over questions of legislative apportionment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In an opinion which explored the nature of "political questions" and the appropriateness of Court action in them, the Court held that there were no such questions to be answered in this case and that legislative apportionment was a justiciable issue. In his opinion, Justice Brennan provided past examples in which the Court had intervened to correct constitutional violations in matters pertaining to state administration and the officers through whom state affairs are conducted. Brennan concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues which Baker and others raised in this case merited judicial evaluation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_6)


Baker v. Carr (1962)
Facts of the Case:
Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state's general assembly was virtually ignored. Baker's suit detailed how Tennessee's reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.

Question:
Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over questions of legislative apportionment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In an opinion which explored the nature of "political questions" and the appropriateness of Court action in them, the Court held that there were no such questions to be answered in this case and that legislative apportionment was a justiciable issue. In his opinion, Justice Brennan provided past examples in which the Court had intervened to correct constitutional violations in matters pertaining to state administration and the officers through whom state affairs are conducted. Brennan concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues which Baker and others raised in this case merited judicial evaluation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_6)


Barron v. Baltimore (1833)
Facts of the Case:
John Barron was co-owner of a profitable wharf in the harbor of Baltimore. As the city developed and expanded, large amounts of sand accumulated in the harbor, making the water too shallow for large boats to dock at the wharf. He sued the city to recover a portion of his financial losses.

Question:
Does the Fifth Amendment deny the states as well as the national government the right to take private property for public use without justly compensating the property's owner?

Conclusion:
No. The Court announced its decision in this case without even hearing the arguments of the City of Baltimore. Writing for the unanimous Court, Chief Justice Marshall found that the limitations on government articulated in the Fifth Amendment were specifically intended to limit the powers of the national government. Citing the intent of the framers and the development of the Bill of Rights as an exclusive check on the government in Washington D.C., Marshall argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in this case since the Fifth Amendment was not applicable to the states.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1833/1833_0)


Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Facts of the Case:
Brandenburg, a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, made a speech at a Klan rally and was later convicted under an Ohio criminal syndicalism law. The law made it illegal to advocate "crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform," as well as assembling "with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism."

Question:
Did Ohio's criminal syndicalism law, prohibiting public speech that advocates various illegal activities, violate Brandenburg's right to free speech as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court issued a majority opinion by the Court itself (not a signed one) that held that the Ohio law violated Brandenburg's right to free speech. The Court used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts: Speech can be prohibited if it is (1) "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action" and it is (2) "likely to incite or produce such action." The criminal syndicalism act made illegal the advocacy and teaching of doctrines while ignoring whether or not that advocacy and teaching would actually incite imminent lawless action. The failure to make this distinction rendered the law overly broad and in violation of the Constitution.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_492)


Bush v. Gore (2000)
Facts of the Case:
Following the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, and concurrent with Vice President Al Gore's contest of the certification of Florida presidential election results, on December 8, 2000 the Florida Supreme Court ordered that the Circuit Court in Leon County tabulate by hand 9,000 contested ballots from Miami-Dade County. It also ordered that every county in Florida must immediately begin manually recounting all "under-votes" (ballots which did not indicate a vote for president) because there were enough contested ballots to place the outcome of the election in doubt. Texas Governor George Bush and his running mate, Richard Cheney, filed a request for review in the U.S. Supreme Court and sought an emergency petition for a stay of the Florida Supreme Court's decision. The U.S. Supreme Court granted review and issued the stay on December 9. It heard oral arguments two days later.

Question:
Did the Florida Supreme Court violate Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution by making new election law? Do standardless manual recounts violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses?

Conclusion:
Noting that the Equal Protection Clause guarantees individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment," the unsigned opinion issued on behalf of the entire Court held 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court's scheme for recounting ballots was unconstitutional. Even if the recount were fair in theory, it was unfair in practice. The record suggested that different standards were applied from ballot to ballot, precinct to precinct, and county to county. Because of those and other procedural difficulties, the court held that no constitutional recount could be fashioned in the time remaining (which was short because the Florida legislature wanted to take advantage of the "safe harbor" provided by 3 U.S.C. Sec. 5). Loath to make broad precedents, the opinion limited its holding to the present case. Rehnquist (in a concurring opinion joined by Scalia and Thomas) argued that the recount scheme was also unconstitutional because the Florida Supreme Court's decision made new election law, which only the state legislature may do. Breyer and Souter (writing separately) agreed with the Court's holding that the Florida supreme court's recount scheme violated the Equal Protection Clause, but they dissented with respect to the remedy, believing that a constitutional recount could be fashioned. Time is insubstantial when constitutional rights are at stake. Ginsburg and Stevens (writing separately) argued that for reasons of federalism, the Florida supreme court's decision ought to be respected. Moreover, the Florida decision was fundamentally right; the Constitution requires that every vote be counted.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_949)


Bush v. Vera (1996)
Facts of the Case:
Following the 1990 census, Texas planned the creation of three additional congressional districts. Following the redistricting, registered voters challenged the plans as racial gerrymandering. A three-judge federal district court found the plans unconstitutional. The case moved to the Supreme Court on appeal.

Question:
Do the Texas redistricting plans violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that the Texas redistricting plans were unconstitutional. Supporting its "strict scrutiny" approach, the Court noted that the proposed districts were highly irregular in shape, that their computerized design was significantly more sensitive to racial data, and that they lacked any semblance to pre-existing race-neutral districts. The Court also held that the totality of the circumstances surrounding the proposed districts would deprive minority groups of equal participation in the electoral political processes. Thus, the proposed districts violated the Voting Rights Act's "results" test, prohibiting activity that "results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or color." Finally, with respect to proposed District 18, the Court held that Texas deliberately designed it to hamper the local African-American minority's ability to elect representatives of their choice. This violated the Voting Rights Act's "nonretrogression" principle, prohibiting state action from obstructing a minority's ability to elect representatives of their choice.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952 (1996) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_94_805)


Clinton v. City of New York (1997)
Facts of the Case:
This case consolidates two separate challenges to the constitutionality of two cancellations, made by President William J. Clinton, under the Line Item Veto Act ("Act"). In the first, the City of New York, two hospital associations, a hospital, and two health care unions, challenged the president's cancellation of a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which relinquished the federal government's ability to recoup nearly $2.6 billion in taxes levied against Medicaid providers by the State of New York. In the second, the Snake River farmers' cooperative and one of its individual members challenged the president's cancellation of a provision of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The provision permitted some food refiners and processors to defer recognition of their capital gains in exchange for selling their stock to eligible farmers' cooperatives. After a district court held the Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court heard the case on expedited appeal.

Question:
Did the president's ability to selectively cancel individual portions of bills, under the Line Item Veto Act, violate the presentment clause of Article I?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision the Court first established that both the City of New York and its affiliates, and the farmers' cooperative suffered sufficiently immediate and concrete injuries to sustain their standing to challenge the president's actions. The Court then explained that under the presentment clause, legislation that passes both houses of Congress must either be entirely approved (i.e. signed) or rejected (i.e. vetoed) by the president. The Court held that by canceling only selected portions of the bills at issue, under authority granted him by the Act, the President in effect "amended" the laws before him. Such discretion, the Court concluded, violated the "finely wrought" legislative procedures of Article I as envisioned by the Framers.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_97_1374)


Cooley v. Board of Wardens (1852)
Facts of the Case:
A Pennsylvania law required that all ships entering or leaving the port of Philadelphia hire local pilots. Ships that failed to do so would be subject to a fine, which would go to a fund for retired pilots and their dependents. This fund was administered by the Board of Wardens of the Port of Philadelphia. Cooley was a ship owner. He refused to hire a local pilot and he also refused to pay the fine.

Question:
Does the law violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution?

Conclusion:
No. According to Justice Curtis, who wrote the majority opinion, the pilotage law did not violate the Constitution. Congress had provided in 1789 that state pilotage laws should govern. Navigation was commerce and piloting was navigation. Though the subject to be regulated was commerce, the interesting twist here was whether the commerce power was exlusive. Some subjects demand a single uniform rule for the whole nation, while others, like pilotage, demand diverse local rules to cope with varying local conditions. The power of Congress was therefore selectively exclusive.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 53 U.S. 299 (1852) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1851/1851_0)


Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856)
Facts of the Case:
Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri. From 1833 to 1843, he resided in Illinois (a free state) and in an area of the Louisiana Territory, where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. After returning to Missouri, Scott sued unsuccessfully in the Missouri courts for his freedom, claiming that his residence in free territory made him a free man. Scott then brought a new suit in federal court. Scott's master maintained that no pure-blooded Negro of African descent and the descendant of slaves could be a citizen in the sense of Article III of the Constitution.

Question:
Was Dred Scott free or slave?

Conclusion:
Dred Scott was a slave. Chief Justice Taney argued that, under Articles III and IV, no one but a citizen of the United States could be a citizen of a state, and that only Congress could confer national citizenship. Taney reached the conclusion that no person descended from an American slave had ever been a citizen for Article III purposes. The Court then held the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, hoping to end the slavery question once and for all.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1856/1856_0)


Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Facts of the Case:
A New York state law gave two individuals the exclusive right to operate steamboats on waters within state jurisdiction. Laws like this one were duplicated elsewhere which led to friction as some states would require foreign (out-of-state) boats to pay substantial fees for navigation privileges. In this case a steamboat owner who did business between New York and New Jersey challenged the monopoly that New York had granted, which forced him to obtain a special operating permit from the state to navigate on its waters.

Question:
Did the State of New York exercise authority in a realm reserved exclusively to Congress, namely, the regulation of interstate commerce?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court found that New York's licensing requirement for out-of-state operators was inconsistent with a congressional act regulating the coasting trade. The New York law was invalid by virtue of the Supremacy Clause. In his opinion, Chief Justice Marshall developed a clear definition of the word commerce, which included navigation on interstate waterways. He also gave meaning to the phrase "among the several states" in the Commerce Clause. Marshall's was one of the earliest and most influential opinions concerning this important clause. He concluded that regulation of navigation by steamboat operators and others for purposes of conducting interstate commerce was a power reserved to and exercised by Congress.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1824/1824_0)


Goldwater v. Carter (1979)
Facts of the Case:
President Jimmy Carter acted without congressional approval in ending a defense treaty with Taiwan.

Question:
Did Congress have a constitutional role to play in the termination of the treaty?

Conclusion:
Undecided. Without oral argument, the divided justices found that they could not act upon the case. Rehnquist led a group of four others who believed that the issue involved a political question, namely, how the President and Congress would conduct the nation's foreign affairs. Justice Powell did not find the case eligible for judicial review. He reasoned that since Congress had not formally challenged Carter's authority, technically there was no conflict for the Court to resolve. The dissenters were prepared to hear the case.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1979/1979_79_856)


Gonzales v. Raich (2005)
Facts of the Case:
In 1996 California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, legalizing marijuana for medical use. California's law conflicted with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which banned possession of marijuana. After the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized doctor-prescribed marijuana from a patient's home, a group of medical marijuana users sued the DEA and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in federal district court. The medical marijuana users argued the Controlled Substances Act--which Congress passed using its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce--exceeded Congress's Commerce Clause power. The district court ruled against the group. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and ruled the CSA unconstitutional as it applied to intrastate (within a state) medical marijuana use. Relying on two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that narrowed Congress's Commerce Clause power--U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000)--the Ninth Circuit ruled using medical marijuana did not "substantially affect" interstate commerce and therefore could not be regulated by Congress.

Question:
Does the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801) exceed Congress's power under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of marijuana for medical use?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the Commerce Clause gave Congress authority to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana, despite state law to the contrary. Stevens argued that the Court's precedent "firmly established" Congress' Commerce Clause power to regulate purely local activities that are part of a "class of activities" with a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The majority argued that Congress could ban local marijuana use because it was part of such a "class of activities": the national marijuana market. Local use affected supply and demand in the national marijuana market, making the regulation of intrastate use "essential" to regulating the drug's national market. The majority distinguished the case from Lopez and Morrison. In those cases, statutes regulated non-economic activity and fell entirely outside Congress' commerce power; in this case, the Court was asked to strike down a particular application of a valid statutory scheme.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_1454)


Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964)
Facts of the Case:
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination by places of public accommodation if their operations affected commerce. The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Atlanta, Georgia, refused to accept black Americans and was charged with violating Title II.

Question:
Did Congress, in passing Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, exceed its Commerce Clause powers by depriving motels, such as the Heart of Atlanta, of the right to choose their own customers?

Conclusion:
No. The Court held that the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to regulate local incidents of commerce, and that the Civil Right Act of 1964 passed constitutional muster. The Court noted that the applicability of Title II was "carefully limited to enterprises having a direct and substantial relation to the interstate flow of goods and people..." The Court thus concluded that places of public accommodation had no "right" to select guests as they saw fit, free from governmental regulation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S., 379 U.S. 241 (1964) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1964/1964_515)


Korematsu v. United States (1944)
Facts of the Case:
During World War II, Presidential Executive Order 9066 and congressional statutes gave the military authority to "exclude" citizens of Japanese ancestry from areas deemed critical to national defense and potentially vulnerable to espionage by relocating them to internment camps. Korematsu remained in San Leandro, California and violated Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the U.S. Army.

Question:
Did the President and Congress go beyond their war powers by implementing exclusion and restricting the rights of Americans of Japanese descent?

Conclusion:
The Court sided with the government and held that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Korematsu's rights. Justice Black argued that compulsory exclusion, though constitutionally suspect, is justified during circumstances of "emergency and peril."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1940-1949/1944/1944_22)


Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Facts of the Case:
The case began on March 2, 1801, when an obscure Federalist, William Marbury, was designated as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. Marbury and several others were appointed to government posts created by Congress in the last days of John Adams's presidency, but these last-minute appointments were never fully finalized. The disgruntled appointees invoked an act of Congress and sued for their jobs in the Supreme Court.

Question:
Is Marbury entitled to his appointment? Is his lawsuit the correct way to get it? And, is the Supreme Court the place for Marbury to get the relief he requests?

Conclusion:
Yes. Yes. It depends. The justices held, through Marshall's forceful argument, that on the last issue the Constitution was "the fundamental and paramount law of the nation" and that "an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void." In other words, when the Constitution--the nation's highest law--conflicts with an act of the legislature, that act is invalid. This case establishes the Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1803/1803_0)


McCullough v. Maryland (1819)
Facts of the Case:
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax.

Question:
The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers?

Conclusion:
Yes. No. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme...they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them."

Citation
The Oyez Project, McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1819/1819_0)


McCullough v. Maryland (1819)
Facts of the Case:
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax.

Question:
The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers?

Conclusion:
Yes. No. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme...they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them."

Citation
The Oyez Project, McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1819/1819_0)


McCullough v. Maryland (1819)
Facts of the Case:
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax.

Question:
The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers?

Conclusion:
Yes. No. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme...they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them."

Citation
The Oyez Project, McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1819/1819_0)


McCullough v. Maryland (1819)
Facts of the Case:
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax.

Question:
The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers?

Conclusion:
Yes. No. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme...they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them."

Citation
The Oyez Project, McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1819/1819_0)


National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel (1937)
Facts of the Case:
With the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, Congress determined that labor-management disputes were directly related to the flow of interstate commerce and, thus, could be regulated by the national government. In this case, the National Labor Relations Board charged the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. with discriminating against employees who were union members.

Question:
Was the act consistent with the Commerce Clause?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court held that the act was narrowly constructed so as to regulate industrial activities which had the potential to restrict interstate commerce. The justices abandoned their claim that labor relations had only an indirect effect on commerce. Since the ability of employees to engage in collective bargaining (one activity protected by the act) is "an essential condition of industrial peace," the national government was justified in penalizing corporations engaging in interstate commerce which "refuse to confer and negotiate" with their workers.

Citation
The Oyez Project, NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1 (1937) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1936/1936_419)


Powell v. McCormack (1969)
Facts of the Case:
Representative Adam Clayton Powell had been embroiled in scandal both in Harlem and in Washington. He won reelection in 1966 but the House of Representatives voted to exclude him from taking his seat, strip him of his seniority, fine him, and declare his seat vacant.

Question:
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?

Conclusion:
No. The Court noted that the proceedings against Powell were intended to exclude and not expel him from the chamber. That is an important distinction to recognize since the House does have the power, under Article I, Section 5, to expel members. However, expulsion was not the purpose of the proceedings in this case. After analyzing the Framers' debates on this issue, Chief Justice Warren concluded that since Powell had been lawfully elected by his constituents and, since he met the constitutional requirements for membership in the House, that the chamber was powerless to exclude him.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486 (1969) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_138)


Printz v. United States (1997)
Facts of the Case:
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Bill) required "local chief law enforcement officers" (CLEOs) to perform background checks on prospective handgun purchasers, until such time as the Attorney General establishes a federal system for this purpose. County sheriffs Jay Printz and Richard Mack, separately challenged the constitutionality of this interim provision of the Brady Bill on behalf of CLEOs in Montana and Arizona, respectively. In both cases district courts found the background checks unconstitutional, but ruled that since this requirement was severable from the rest of the Brady Bill a voluntary background check system could remain. On appeal from the Ninth Circuit's ruling that the interim background check provisions were constitutional, the Supreme Court consolidated and heard the cases, deciding this one along with Mack v. United States.

Question:
Using the necessary and proper clause of Article I as justification, can Congress temporarily require state CLEOs to regulate handgun purchases by performing those duties called for by the Brady Bill's handgun applicant background checks?

Conclusion:
No. The Court constructed its opinion on the old principle that state legislatures are not subject to federal direction. The Court explained that while Congress may require the federal government to regulate commerce directly, in this case by performing background checks on applicants for handgun ownership, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not empower it to compel state CLEOs to fulfill its federal tasks for it--even temporarily. The Court added that the Brady Bill could not require CLEOs to perform the related tasks of disposing of handgun-application forms or notifying certain applicants of the reasons for their refusal in writing, since the Brady Bill reserved such duties only for those CLEO's who voluntarily accepted them.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1478)


Shaw v. Hunt (1995)
Facts of the Case:
Residents of North Carolina challenged a plan to create two congressional districts on the ground that the proposed districts were racially gerrymandered. On initial review, a three-judge district court panel dismissed the action only to have its decision reversed and sent back to it by the Supreme Court. However, the Court's standard for review left very little room for racial engineering of congressional voting districts. When reviewing it again, the district court found the redistricting plans to be racially tailored and, therefore, unconstitutional. Again, the matter was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question:
Does North Carolina's redistricting plan constitute racial gerrymandering in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-4 opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, the Court first confronted the threshold question of "standing." It held that some of the appellants lacked proper standing to challenge the redistricting plan. Only those voters who resided in a congressional district alleged to have been created by racial gerrymandering had proper standing to challenge the constitutionality of that district's creation. Those voters who did not reside in one of the two allegedly racially gerrymandered districts, and who failed to provide evidence that they were assigned to their district of residence on the basis of race, lacked proper standing to participate in the racial gerrymandering claim. After noting the challenged district's unusually non-compact serpentine shape, and the appellants' admission that the districts' were primarily designed to create black voting majorities, the Court applied strict scrutiny to the facts at hand. Finding no narrowly tailored plans aimed at serving a compelling state interest that would justify the creation of racially gerrymandered districts, the Court concluded that the redistricting plans violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899 (1996) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_94_923)


Smith v. Allwright (1944)
Facts of the Case:
A resolution of the Democratic Party of Texas, a group that the Texas Supreme Court had deemed a "voluntary association," allowed only whites to participate in Democratic primary elections. S.S. Allwright was a county election official; he denied Lonnie E. Smith, a black man, the right to vote in the 1940 Texas Democratic primary.

Question:
Did denying blacks the right to vote in primary elections violate the Fifteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court overruled its decision in Grovey v. Townsend (1935) and found the restrictions against black people unconstitutional. Even though the Democratic Party was a voluntary organization, the fact that Texas statutes governed the selection of county-level party leaders, the party conducted primary elections under state statutory authority, and state courts were given exclusive original jurisdiction over contested elections, guaranteed for black people the right to vote in primaries. Allwright engaged in state action abridging Smith's right to vote because of his race. A state cannot "permit a private organization to practice racial discrimination" in elections, argued Justice Reed. (The Court's decision in this matter was amended on June 12, 1944.)

Citation
The Oyez Project, Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1940-1949/1943/1943_51)


Texas v. White (1868)
Facts of the Case:
In 1851, Congress authorized the transfer of $10 million worth of United States bonds to the state of Texas. The bonds were payable to the state or bearer and were to be redeemable in 1864. In 1862, during the Civil War, an insurgent Texas legislature authorized the use of the bonds to purchase war supplies. Four years later, the reconstruction government tried to reclaim the bonds.

Question:
Was Texas a state in the union eligible to seek redress in the Supreme Court? Could Texas constitutionally reclaim the bonds?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-3 decision, the Court held that Texas did indeed have the right to bring suit and that individuals such as White had no claim to the bonds in question. The Court held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that the acts of the insurgent Texas legislature--even if ratified by a majority of Texans--were "absolutely null." Even during the period of rebellion, however, the Court found that Texas continued to be a state.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1868/1868_0)


Texas v. White (1868)
Facts of the Case:
In 1851, Congress authorized the transfer of $10 million worth of United States bonds to the state of Texas. The bonds were payable to the state or bearer and were to be redeemable in 1864. In 1862, during the Civil War, an insurgent Texas legislature authorized the use of the bonds to purchase war supplies. Four years later, the reconstruction government tried to reclaim the bonds.

Question:
Was Texas a state in the union eligible to seek redress in the Supreme Court? Could Texas constitutionally reclaim the bonds?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-3 decision, the Court held that Texas did indeed have the right to bring suit and that individuals such as White had no claim to the bonds in question. The Court held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that the acts of the insurgent Texas legislature--even if ratified by a majority of Texans--were "absolutely null." Even during the period of rebellion, however, the Court found that Texas continued to be a state.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1868/1868_0)


Wesberry v. Sanders (1964)
Facts of the Case:
James P. Wesberry, Jr. filed a suit against Georgia governor Carl E. Sanders, protesting the state's apportionment scheme. The Fifth Congressional District, of which Wesberry was a member, had a population two to three times larger than some of the other districts in the state. Wesberry claimed this system diluted his right to vote compared to other Georgia residents.

Question:
Did Georgia's congressional districts violate the Fourteenth Amendment or deprive citizens of the full benefit of their right to vote?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court held that Georgia's apportionment scheme grossly discriminated against voters in the Fifth Congressional District. Because a single congressman had to represent two to three times as many people as were represented by congressmen in other districts, the Georgia statute contracted the value of some votes and expanded the value of others. The Court recognized that "no right is more precious" than that of having a voice in elections and held that "to say that a vote is worth more in one district than in another would not only run counter to our fundamental ideas of democratic government, it would cast aside the principle of a House of Representatives elected 'by the People.'"

Citation
The Oyez Project, Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_22)


Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
Facts of the Case:
In April 1952, during the Korean War, President Truman issued an executive order directing Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer to seize and operate most of the nation's steel mills. This was done in order to avert the expected effects of a strike by the United Steelworkers of America.

Question:
Did the president have the constitutional authority to seize and operate the steel mills?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that the president did not have the authority to issue such an order. The Court found that there was no congressional statute that authorized the president to take possession of private property. The Court also held that the president's military power as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces did not extend to labor disputes. The Court argued that "the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1951/1951_744)

Unit 2      Court Cases
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