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Encyclopedia > United States constitutional law

In the United States, constitutional law generally refers to the provisions of the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional law is the study of foundational laws that govern the scope of powers and authority of various bodies in relation to the creation and execution of other laws by a government. ... Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed The Constitution of the United States is the supreme... Seal of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest federal court in the United States of America. ...


Early in its history, the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) assumed the power—called judicial review—to review federal laws passed by Congress and enforced by the executive branch and to decide whether those laws (or their application) conformed to the Constitution. The court later extended this review to relevant state laws—in order, for example, to determine whether a state law conformed to the Contract Clause or (after the Fourteenth Amendment was added) whether a state had violated the Equal Protection Clause. Holding Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is unconstitutional to the extent it purports to enlarge the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond that permitted by the Constitution. ... 1803 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Judicial review is the power of a court to review a law or an official act of a government employee or agent; for example, although the basis is different in different countries, as unconstitutional or violating of basic principles of justice. ... A congress is a gathering of people, especially a gathering for a political purpose. ... The Contract Clause appears in the United States Constitution, Article I, section 10, clause 1. ... Amendment XIV (the Fourteenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution is one of the post-Civil War amendments and includes the due process and equal protection clauses (Section 1). ... The Equal Protection Clause is a part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, providing that no state shall. ...


When exercising judicial review, the Court will often seek to avoid conflict with the Congress or President by basing its decision on non-constitutional reasons. However, the Court's assumed power to invalidate federal and state laws or actions has no counterpart in common or civil law, and has no basis in the United States Constitution. The organic law of the United States derives in great part from that of Britain which has vested the power of judicial review in the people since 1215, when the Magna Carta was signed by King John Lackland. Article 39 establishes the concept of the jury as the regulating body in legal matters, rather than the government itself. The President of the United States is the head of state of the United States. ... Events June 15 - King John of England forced to put his seal to the Magna Carta, outlining the rights of landowning men (nobles and knights) and restricting the kings power. ... Magna Carta placed certain checks on the absolute power of the English Monarchs. ... John (December 24, 1166–October 18/19, 1216) reigned as King of England from April 6, 1199, until his death. ...


However, whilst American constitutional law derives some legitimacy from previous UK and/or world doctrines, it is still worth noting the awesome power granted to the Court by itself in its ruling in Marbury v. Madison; it is from this ruling that later applications of judicial review were justified on, and its influence on USA governmental affairs can not be underestimated. Holding Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is unconstitutional to the extent it purports to enlarge the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond that permitted by the Constitution. ...


The Supreme Court's interpretations of Constitutional law are binding on the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, on the lower courts in the federal system and on all state courts. This system of binding interpretations or precedents evolved from the common law system, where precedent binds lower courts. However, neither English common law courts or continental civil law courts generally have the power to declare legislation illegal or unconstitutional but only the power to interpret the law itself. This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ...


There are a number of related doctrines that, once raised by a party, the Supreme Court will examine before deciding on a constitutional question. Perhaps the most important of these is whether the court can avoid the constitutional question by basing its decision on a nonconstitutional reason. For example, if a federal statute is on shaky constitutional footing but applied to the challenging party in a manner that does not implicate the basis for the constitutional claim, the Supreme Court will not decide whether the statute might be unconstitutional if it were applied differently. Or, when reviewing a decision of a state's highest court, the Court may avoid constitutional decision making if the state court's decision is based on an independent and adequate state law grounds. That is, even if the state court decided the question of state law incorrectly, the Supreme Court will not review that decision for its correctness.


There are also many related doctrines that federal courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular will consider before allowing a lawsuit to go forward. These implicate whether there is a case and controversy before the court and include proper standing of the parties, whether the case raises abstract, hypothetical or conjectural questions, whether the case is ripe for decision, or moot and thus past decision, or whether the question presented is a political question, unreviewable by the Court because the Constitution relegates it to another branch of government. These doctrines, because they apply to all federal cases whether of constitutional dimension or not, are discussed separately in the article on federal jurisdiction. In law, standing is the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged. ... In law, ripeness refers to the readiness of a case for litigation; for example, if a law of ambiguous quality has been enacted but never applied, a case challenging that law lacks the ripeness necessary for a decision. ... In law, a matter is moot if further legal proceedings with regard to it can have no effect, or events have placed it beyond the reach of the law. ... In United States law, a ruling that something is a political question is a statement by a federal court, declining to rule in a case because: 1) the Constitution has committed decisionmaking on this subject to another branch of the federal government; 2) there are inadequate standards for the court... Key concepts in general federal law in the USA (other countries using a federal system differ), at all court levels, include standing and the Case or Controversy Requirement. ...


Furthermore, there are a number of ways that commentators and Justices of the Supreme Court have defined the Court's role, and its jurisprudential method. For example, current Associate Justice Antonin Scalia is an originalist, in that he believes that the Constitution is largely a fixed document, and that it should be interpreted as the Founding Fathers would have wished. Unless there is a historic and/or extremely pressing reason to interpret the Constitution differently, originalists vote as they think the Constitution as it was written in the late 18th Century would dictate. Other approaches are possible, though. Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter was a leading proponent of so-called judicial restraint, in that he believed that the Supreme Court should not make law (which, by invalidating or significantly altering the meaning of Congressional bills, Frankfurter felt they were), and so believers in this idea often vote not to grant cases the writ of certiorari. Other Justices have taken a more activist (see judicial activism) approach, believing that it is the role of the Supreme Court to reflect or change public mood. They often see the Constitution as a living, changing and adaptable document; thus their ruling will be in stark contrast to originalists. Compare, for example, the differing opinions of Justices Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is a more interventionist justice. Finally, there are some Justices who do not have a clear judicial philosophy, and so decide cases purely on each one's individual merits. None of these ways of interpreting law is necessarily any better; nor do they reflect any sort of "conservatism" or "liberalism" on the parts of the Justices. For example, originalism is often associated with conservatism, but Justice Scalia's opinions in the cases in 2004 about suspects at Guantanamo Bay were probably the most libertarian, because he did not believe that the framers of the Constitution given Executive powers to be used to keep civilians away from judicial and legislative notice. Justice Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia (born March 11, 1936) has been a U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice since 1986. ... In the context of U.S. Constitutional interpretation, originalism is a family of theories which share the starting point that a Constitution (or statute) does not evolve in meaning, but rather, has a fixed and knowable meaning, which should be adhered to by Judges. ... Founding Fathers are persons instrumental not only in the establishment (founding) of a political institution, but also in the origination of the idea of the institution. ... Justice Frankfurter Felix Frankfurter (November 15, 1882–February 22, 1965) was a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice. ... A judical philosophy wereby judges adhere closely to statutes and procedures in reaching their decision. ... In English Law certiorari (Latin, to inform) is a public law relief (i. ... The phrases judicial activism and activist judges in the United States, Australia, Canada and other countries with common law systems, are political epithets that refer to judges who are alleged to exceed their authority. ... Justice Antonin Scalia Antonin Scalia (born March 11, 1936) has been a US Supreme Court Associate Justice since 1986. ... Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15, 1933) is a United States jurist. ... For conservatism in the United States and Canada, see Conservatism in North America. ... Note: This entry discusses liberalism as a world wide ideology, not its manifestations in any specific country. ... Map of Cuba with location of Guantanamo Bay indicated. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
United States constitutional law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (918 words)
In the United States, constitutional law generally refers to the provisions of the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court.
The organic law of the United States derives in great part from that of Britain which has vested the power of judicial review in the people since 1215, when the Magna Carta was signed by King John Lackland.
The Supreme Court's interpretations of Constitutional law are binding on the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, on the lower courts in the federal system and on all state courts.
Constitutional law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (360 words)
Constitutional law is the study of foundational laws that govern the scope of powers and authority of various bodies in relation to the creation and execution of other laws by a government.
Not all nation-states have constitutions, though all such states have a jus commune, or law of the land, that may consist of a variety of imperative and consensual rules, that may be customary law, oral law and written law that apply in the various jurisdictions of such state.
Thus, for example, in the case of a unitary state, the Constitution will vest ulitimate authority in one central administration and legislature, and judiciary, though there is often a delegation of power or authority to local or municipal authorities.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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