Midterm (50%) and Final (50%)
15 definitions/identifications (4 points each/60 total)– Black’s Law Dictionary
1 hypothetical (40 points)
West Law, Lexus: legal research
-Articles of Confederation: the first Constitution of the US.
The only branch of government was the Congress. Gave too much power to
states and not enough to the national government. National government had no
power to tax, only state governments did.
-Annapolis Convention (1786): Country leaders in Annapolis to amend/ modify
the Articles of Confederation. Not enough delegates came and they were not ready,
so they adjourned (asked for more time) until a year later in Philadelphia.
-Shay’s Rebellion: A rebellion in Massachusetts between the Annapolis and the
Philadelphia convention, which greatly influenced the New Constitution.
Daniel Shays, (1786-1787) a former military officer for the Americans,
against the British, went back to his farm in Massachusetts after the war to realize
that the bank was foreclosing it. Because of displeasure with the fact that he had
sided with this new country in the War for Independence and was now being
penalized for it (and other soldiers having this happen to them), they began a
rebellion against the rich (class warfare). This alerted the educated country leaders,
who decided to tear up the Articles of Confederation in the Philadelphia Convention
to give more power to the federal government to be able to put down the rebellion,
and to distibute power more evenly.
-Philadelphia/Constitutional Convention: convention in which the current
Constitution was created.
The country leaders attempted democracy, for the first time, on a national
-Democracy: government by the people with frequent elections.
A type of democracy is what we have today, a representative democracy.
-Connecticut Compromise: a compromise at the Philadelphia Convention pursuant
to which a bicameral congress was created.
Came up with the VA and the NJ plans, and decided on the creation of a two-
house legislature (one house will have representation based on population (VA plan
– house of reps), and the other would have an equal # of representatives (NJ plan –
Virginia Plan: a plan proposed by the VA delegation to the Philadelphia Convention
pursuant to which representation in Congress would be based upon the population
of each state.
New Jersey Plan: a plan proposed by the NJ delegation to the Philadelphia
Convention pursuant to which representation in Congress would be the same for
Bicameralism: principal of a two-house legislature.
Three Fifth’s Compromise: A compromise at the Philadelphia convention pursuant
to which a slave would count as 3/5ths of a person in order to determine
representation of a slave state in the House of Representatives. Representation in the House of Representatives shall be determined by
adding to the whole # of free persons, three-fifths of all other persons. Aka slaves
(black people) were counted as three-fifths of one person for purposes of
representation in the House of Representatives.
-Five major elements of the Constitution (C): The chief architect of the C was James
1. Separation of Powers: division of powers among the three branches of
government, i.e. (that is) the executive (presidency), legislative (Congress), judicial
2. Checks and Balances: a political system in which one branch of
government can block the other branches.
3. Federalism: the division of power between the national government and
the state governments.
4. Bicameralism: principal of a two-house legislature.
5. Bill of Rights: the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
-Jurisdiction: authority of a court to hear and decide a case.
-Limitations upon a court’s jurisdiction: [Case or Controversy]
-Mootness: the court lacks jurisdiction because although there was a case or
controversy in the past, it no longer exists at the present time.
-Ripeness: the court lacks jurisdiction because although there may be a case
or controversy in the future, it does not yet exist at the present time.
-Standing: the plaintiff must have suffered (or will suffer at a soon time) a
substantial injury in order for the court to have jurisdiction
-Political Question: a question that the court refuses to address because the
Constitution gives the power to address this question to one of the other two
branches of governments i.e. congress or the president
**Executor: named in the will
Administrator: government appointed b/c there is no person named in the will
-New York State Court System:
Lowest: Supreme Court (62 counties with 62 courts) – judge and jury
Appellate Division (4 divisions) – judge usually
Highest: Court of Appeals (in Albany) – judge
*There are also small, more insignificant courts, like small claims, etc.
-Federal Court System:
Lowest: District Court
Court of Appeals
Highest: The Supreme Court
-Stare decisis (precedent): “Let the decision stand.” A judge who is presented with
a case, which has a very similar fact pattern to a prior case that had been decided by
a higher court, must come to the same decision as the earlier case. The Supreme
Court of the United State does not have to adhere to any precedent – Brown v. Board
of Ed. Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. -Common Law: a system of law in Anglo-American countries in which judges have
the authority to make law ex. Brown v. Board of Ed. And Roe v. Wade
-Civil Law: a system of law in which the judiciary simply interprets statutes passed
by the legislature
-Opinion: a written decision of a court in which the court issues its decision and
explains its reasoning for reaching that decision
(I) Facts: What are the facts of the case? The story behind the case.
(II) Issue: What is the question that must be resolved?
(III) Decision: What was decided?
(IV) Rule/Holding: Restatement of the issue in an answer to the issue.
(V) Reasoning: How and why that rule was decided.
MARBURY V. MADISON (1803)
This case pertains to the National Election of 1800 (the 4 election). Twelve
years prior was the first National Election in which George Washington became the
leader of the Federalists (his political party). The Federalists interpreted the
constitution in a way in which gave more power to the Federal Government, giving
the states little power. The opposition to the Federalists were the Democratic-
Republicans, whose leader was Thomas Jefferson. During the 2 National Election,
Washington won again, keeping power with the Federalists. During these years, the
Federalists also won both Houses of Congress. At the time, there were no term-
limits for the presidency, but he chose to step down after two terms. In his place,
John Adams, Washington’s Vice President, ran and won. During these twelve years,
the Federalists also won both Houses of Congress, and elected only Federalists to
the Supreme Court.
During the Election of 1800, Adams runs for a second turn. Thomas Jefferson
runs for the Democratic-Republicans and wins. AND the Democratic-Republicans
also win both Houses of Congress. BUT the Supreme Court is still all Federalist.
Adams becomes a lame duck (an elected official who must leave office in the
immediate future) from November (when voting takes place) to March 4 .
Adams midnight appointed a man named William Marbury as a Justice of the
Peace. At this time, there were five official steps: (1) President must nominate the
judge, (2) The Senate must confirm the nomination, (3) The President must sign the
commission, (4) Secretary of State, who at the time was John Marshall, must place
the official seal of the US on the commission, (5) The Secretary of State must have
the commission hand-delivered to the newly appointed Judge. Steps 1 and 2 are in
the Constitution, whereas 3-5 are required formalities. Steps 1 and 2 were done and
not contested, steps 3 and 4 were done on March 3 (the night before his term
expired) – these were also not contested, step 5 is the basis of this case.
There were 17 non-delivered appointments left on the president’s desk after
Jefferson’s had taken over the Presidency. Jefferson’s Secretary of State is Madison,
and he decides not to hand-deliver these appointments and give out his own
appointments instead. Marbury decided to sue asking the court to issue a Writ of
Mandamus (A court order requiring a public official to perform the duties of
his/her office); Writ: written order of the court to require his appointment to be hand-delivered. The Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction for this case and had to
-Judiciary Act of 1789: an act that created the lower courts below the Supreme
-Section 13 of the Judiciary act of 1789: this section provided that a lawsuit
seeking a writ of mandamus may be commenced directly in the SC rather than in the
-Original Jurisdiction: the authority of a court to hear a new case
-Appellate Jurisdiction: the authority of a court to hear a case on appeal
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Pres. John Adams as a lame duck, nominated William Marbury to be a federal
judge in Washington DC. The senate confirmed the nomination, the commission was
signed by the president, and secretary of state John Marshall placed the US seal on
the commission as required by law. Marshall did not have the commission hand
delivered to Marbury (as required by law) by the morning of March 4, 1801, when
President Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as president. The new secretary of state
under President Jefferson, James Madison, refused to deliver the commission to
Marbury. Marbury sued Madison in the Supreme Court asking the court to issue a
writ of mandamus ordering Madison to deliver him the commission. Marbury relied
upon section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as a basis of the Supreme courts
Can the Supreme Court void an act of national legislation that it considers to
The Supreme Court can void an act of national legislation that it considers to
The Supreme Court is powerless to issue the writ of mandamus because sec
13 of the jud act of 1789 is unconstitutional. Article III of the Constitution provides
that the SC shall have original jurisdiction only in the following two situations (i) in
cases affecting ambassadors (ii) in cases in which a state is a party. According to
Article III, in all other cases the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction. The
Supreme Court has the power to declare any act which is repugnant to the
constitution to be void. This act, i.e., section 13 of the judiciary act of 1789, is
repugnant to the constitution. Therefore this act is void.
-Judicial Review: the power of the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional.
-Syllogism: a methodology of reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor
premise, and a conclusion. Example: all professors at Baruch College are excellent
professors. Professors Singer is a professor at Baruch College. Professor singer is an
excellent professor. Terms to do with Scott v. Sandford
Missouri Compromise: a federal law (passed in 1820) that allowed Missouri to
enter the union as a slave state and Maine to enter the Union as a free state. This law
also prohibited slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36-30-latitude line.
Federal Question Jurisdiction: jurisdiction that federal courts have when the
plaintiff has alleged a violation of the Constitution or the laws of the US national
Diversity Jurisdiction: jurisdiction that federal courts have when the opposing
parties are from different states.
Dicta: a remark made by a judge in a written opinion that does not form a necessary
part of the court’s decision.
Due Process: the government may not take away one’s life, liberty, or property
without notice of a hearing and then a hearing.
Dr. Emerson, an army surgeon, took his slave Dred Scott from Missouri, a
slave state, to Illinois, a freed state, as well as the northern part of the territory of
Louisiana, an area in which, pursuant to the Missouri Compromise, slavery was
illegal. Emerson subsequently brought Scott back with him to Missouri. Following
the death of Emerson, his widow became the new owner of Scott. She then married
an abolitionist (opposing slavery) and moved to New England. She transferred
ownership to her brother, John Sandford from New York State, so that, after Scott
sued Sandford for his freedom, diversity jurisdiction would apply and the case
would be heard in a Missouri federal court rather than in a Missouri state court.
Scott maintained in his lawsuit that his residence in a free state and a free territory
conferred freedom upon him.
Can a slave sue?
Did Congress have the power to make slavery illegal in the US territories
pursuant to the Missouri Compromise?
Congress did not have the power to make slavery illegal in the US territories
pursuant to the Missouri Compromise.
Slaves are property. The Fifth Amendment’s due process clause prohibits the
government from depriving a person of his property without due process of law.
The Missouri Compromise violates this constitutional clause by depriving a slave
owner of his slaves, without due process of law, when the slave owner brings his
slaves to a free territory. Therefore, the Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) v. Chadha ()
Bill: a proposed law being considered by Congress.
Veto: the president’s refusal to sign a bill passed by Congress. Legislative Veto: congress passes a law delegating legislative powers to the
executive branch, but the law allows either House of Congress to nullify executive
branch action it doesn’t like.
Bicameralism clause: a clause in the Constitution that establishes a two-house
legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate.
Presentment clause: a clause in the Constitution that says that in order for a bill to
become a law it must be passed in identity form in both the House and Senate and
then presented to the President for his signature or veto.
Impeachment: when the House of Representatives votes that a federal official must
stand trial in the Senate.