POLSCI 389 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Fair Labor Standards Act, Tenth Amendment To The United States Constitution, Commerce Clause
Course CodePOLSCI 389
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divided gov is now primary source of risk of presidential nominees
i. The Confirmation Process and Those Who Were Called But Did Not Serve
article ii: pres nominates, and w/ Senate approval, shall appoint judges of supreme court.
2 stage appointment process creates possibility of deadlock
Pres has advantages over Senate (not equal players):
Pres has an agenda-setting advantage
only consequence of a rejected nominee is that Pres can choose again.
Senate only possesses a negative power: does not have formal authority to dictate a selection
after a nomination, burden rests on opposition Senators to change the course of action.
only 18% of nominations have failed confirmation
Rhenquist Court and Contemporary Federalism:
Supreme Court and Centralization of American Federalism
under John Marshall, Supreme Court was an “agent of nationalization” - ppl viewed ‘judicial review’ as a legitimate power
with Commerce Clause, Court now permitted an activist Congress limited only by its ability to demonstrate a rational basis for its regulations
Warren Court after WWII: viewed as ‘defender of minority rights’ and civil liberties
“we live under a national, not a federal, Constitution
The Rediscovery of Federalism in the 1990s
Transition to Rehnquist Era:
National League of Cities (NLC) v. Usery: Congress’s attempt to apply Fair Labor Standards Act to state/local gov employees was unconstitutional + violated the 10th
Amendment (diff from Warren Court’s view of 10th A as a mere ‘truism’)
1985: Court reversed NLC altogether in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority
1991: began series of court decisions rooted in Federalist principles
Theme 1: Resurrecting State Sovereignty
NY v. US: “Federal gov may not force states to enact or administer a federal regulatory program” - case on radioactive waste
State Sovereign Immunity: judicial protection of states’ legislative and administrative apparatus from federal usurpation
Theme 2: Limitation on Delegated Powers (Congress’s constitutional powers)
US v Lopez: Anti Gun Zones by schools do not apply to the Commerce Clause
Limiting Congress’s Enforcement Powers Under the 14th A: ‘Congress has only the power to enforce, not interpret, the Constitution”
the 14th A is directed to state actions, not private conduct, and so fails to provide adequate basis for a statute directed at criminal conduct by individuals
A Devolution Revolution?
the new, more federalist court is still not as ‘federalist’ as the court pre-New Deal era: current court still recognizes that state autonomy is not as absolute as the earlier courts
did not “restore constitutional dual federalism"
Constitutional Grants and the Court’s New Federalism: How Gov Able to expand so much under the New Deal
court ruled that the welfare clause is an independent grant of power to the Congress; congress can spend public funds on activities that it otherwise lacks the authority
to address (South Dakota v. Dole, drinking age to be raised to 21)
popular sovereignty: ppl hold the sovereignty, rather than the federal or state governments
decisions are highly vulnerable to reversal or erosion: most, if not all, recent court decisions had 5-4 margins
lack of public support to return to strict dual federalism; more support exists for “cooperative federalism”
The Supreme Court’s Role in the Federal System:
“neutral arbiter” or “umpire” or enforcer of the federal balance b/w federal gov and state/local govs
Chuck Shumer’s Speech:
Q 1: Were we duped?
senators too easily impressed with Alito and Robert’s charm
mistake to vote for them
Alito and Roberts “artfully exploited” the confirmation process
liberal wing of court = “marginalized”
"the confirmation show: pledge allegiance to precedent in word and in theory, but cast inconvenient precedents aside in deed and in practice.”
Q 2: What Lessons Were Learned?
1) confirmation commitments/Senate hearings are meaningless
easy to evade questions, be coached, not give a concrete opinion
2) we need to look at judges’ record
Roberts wasnt on a court for long, so his record was ‘sparse’
3) ideology matters (conservative v liberal agenda)
4) believe the president’s word:
Q 3: How Do We Apply These Lessons?
Senator should vote against nominee if he/she has a sparse record
we should reverse the presumption of confirmation
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