Supreme Court Flashcards

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Strict constuctionalist?
A justice of the SC who interprets the constitution in a strict, literal or conservative fashion, and who tends to stress the retention of as much power as possible by the governments of individual states. For example, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito.
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Loose constructionalist?
A justice of the SC who interprets the constitution in a loose or liberal fashion and who tends to stress the broad grants of power ti the federal government. For example, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan.
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Judicial Activism?
An approach to judicial decision making which holds that a judge should use his or her position to promote desirable social ends.
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Judicial Restraint?
An approach which holds that a judge should defer to the legislative and executive branches, which are politically accountable, and should put greater stress on the precedent established in previous Court decisions.
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Judicial Review?
The power of the Sc that was established in [Marbury v Maddison] 1803 to declare acts of congress/the executive unconstitutional and thereby making them null or void.
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Civil Rights?
Positive acts of government designed to protect persons against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by government or individuals.
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Civil Liberties?
guarantee the protection of persons against excess interference from government.
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Due Process?
refers to the principle of limited government. There are two types of due process referred to by the courts. Substantive due process demands that the substance of the law must not be unreasonable. Procedural due process- process of law must be fair.
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suspicious of greater federal government power and place more stress on individual responsibility.
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Favour greater intervention, there is a strong support for individual freedoms and upholding minority rights.
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How many justices of SC and who are they?
9 Justices altogether, one chief justice (John Roberts). There are 4 conservatives (John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito), 4 liberals (Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan) and 1 swing judge (Kenned
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Who is the SC swing judge?
Anthony Kennedy.
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Number of justices/process?
Number is fixed by congress and has remained unchanged since 1869. Members appointed by president. Subject to senate confirmation by a simple majority.
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How long do judges hold office?
‘during good behaviour’, meaning they can be impeached (e.g. Thomas Porteous 2010). Otherwise justices leave the court only by retirement or death. For example William Rehmquist was appointed to the SC under Nixon in 1972, served until his death 2005
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Appointment process?
Wait for vacancy, shortlist is drawn up and FBI background checks, nominates candidate, ABA rating, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, SJC recommend/dont recommend, debate on senate floor, final vote.
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What vote is required to confirm judicial appointment?
Simple majority.
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Where are nominations drawn from? (5 places)
Lower courts - e.g. all apart from Kagan. Academia - Antonin Scalia Executive branch - John Roberts and Kagan. State governors - Earl Warren of California (1953) State courts - Sandra Day O’Connor (1981)
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What judge has lowest rating by ABA?
The American Bar Association (ABA) offer s professional rating of ‘qualified’, ‘well qualified’ or ‘not qualified’. All judges are ‘well qualified’ except for Clarence Thomas who is ‘qualified’.
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Recent successful appointments?
Elena Kagan (Obama 2010) Sonia Sotomayor (Obama 2009) John Roberts (Bush 2005)
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Recent unsuccessful appointments?
Robert Bork (Reagan 1987) Clement Haynsworth (Nixon 1969) G Harold Corswell (Nixon 1970) Harriet Miers (Bush 2005). She was not rejected by the senate but she withdrew her application before it was voted on.
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Who withdrew judicial application?
Harriet Miers (Bush 2005). She was not rejected by the senate but she withdrew her application before it was voted on.
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Factors that affect success of SC nominations?
Candidate ideology, candidate experience, party composition of senate, how nominee contributes to balance and diversity of court.
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Example of candidate ideology?
Candidates ideology - Bork was rejected for being too right wing. However Roberts during his nomination said he had ‘no platform’ an that judges should be neutral, unlike politicians.
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Example of candidate experience?
Roberts went to Harvard college, was associate council to Reagan, practised law and was also a CA judge, despite being relatively young at 57. However Bork’s experience worked against him such as his legal involvement in Watergate.
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Example of party composition of senate?
Bork was too right wing but Roberts was more central.
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Example of diversity in nomination of SC?
John Paul Stevens was replaced by Kagan who was a female and also the youngest justice but of a similar ideology to Stevens. However Roberts replaced a fellow white, male, conservative.
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When was judicial review established and confirmed?
Established in [Marbury v Maddison] 1803. It was the confirmed in the ‘Flying Fish’ case of [Little v Barreme] 1804
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What does judicial review allow court to do?
update the meaning of the word of the constitution, it does not allow the courts to change the wording of the constitution. Judicial review allows the court to interpret the constitution, turn the court into a political institution (quasi-legislativ
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[Marbury v Maddison] 1803
Established the power of judicial review
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[Little v Barreme] 1804
First court to declare an act of the executive unconstitutional.
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[Dredd Scott v Sandford] 1857
Blacks, whether free of slaves cannot be US citizens.
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[Ableman v Booth] 1859
State courts cannot issue rulings that contradict the decisions of federal courts.
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[Plessy v Fergusson] 1896
Segregated facilities for blacks and whites are constitutional under the doctrine of seperate but equal.
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[Near v Minnesota] 1931
Except in rare cases, censorship is unconstitutional.
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[Brown v Topeka Board of Education] 1954
Segregated schools in the southern states are unconstitutional in violation of the 14th amendment.
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[Roth v United States] 1957
Obscene material is not protected by the 1st amendment.
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[Engel v Vitale] 1962
Government directed prayer in public schools violated the first amendment.
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[Roe v Wade] 1973
Struck down laws restricting abortion.
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[US v Nixon] 1974
Ruled that the doctrine of executive privilege is legitimate, however the president cannot invoke it in criminal cases to withhold evidence.
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[Texas v Johnson] 1989
Law prohibiting American flag is unconstitutional as it is violating first amendment.
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[Planned Parenthood of Seattle v Casey] 1992
Placed tighter restrictions on abortion by upholding parts of Pennsylvania's abortion laws.
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[Veronia School District v Acton] 1995
Schools may implement random drugs testing upon students participating in school-sponsored athletics.
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[Bush v Gore] 2000
Cannot recount ballots.
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[Gonzales v Carhart] 2007
Congress can prohibit a specific abortion procedure known as a partial-birth abortion.
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[Boumedine v Bush] 2008
Foreign terrorism suspects have a constitutional right to challenge their detention at Guantanamo Bay in US courts.
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[Citizens United v FEC] 2010
No limits on campaign spending.
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[New York Times v United States] 1971
made it possible for the New York times’ newspapers to publicise classified papers without risk of government censorship/punishment. Extends freedom of speech to freedom of press.
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Buckley v Valeo 1976
Established that spending money on behalf of a political party/candidate is a form of protected speech.
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[United States v Eichman] 1990
Allowed flag burning but not at political protests.
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[McConnell v FEC] 2003
may not use soft money funding for federal election campaigns.
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[United States v FEC] 2010
Ruled that political spending is a form of protected speech under first amendment.
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[Snyder v Phelps] 2011
Upheld the right of a fringe church group to stage anti-gay protests at military funerals. Upheld right of freedom of speech.
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Lee v Wiseman 1992 (1st amendment)
declared prayer at public school graduation ceremonies unconstitutional.
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[Zelman v Simmons-Harris] 2002
Upheld Ohio’s school voucher programme as being neutral in terms of religion.
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McCreary v ACLU 2005
Ruled that having the 10 amendments on show is unconstitutional as it is the courts job to be neutral.
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[US v Lopez]
The court declared the Gun-Free Schools Act unconstitutional.
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[Collumbia v Heller] 2008
The second amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self defence within the home.
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Macdonald v City of Chicago 2010
The second amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defence in one’s home is fully applicable to the states through the 14th amendment.
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[US v Drayton] 2002 (4th amendment)
The 4th amendment does not require officers to advise bus passengers of their right not to cooperate and refuse to consent searches.
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[Board of Education v Earls] 2002
Coercive drug testing imposed by school district upon students who participate in extracurricular activities does not violate 4th amendment.
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Miranda v Arizona 1966 (5th amendment)
Requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of his rights to remain silent and obtain an attorney.
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[Dickerson v US] 2000 (5th amendment)
upheld the right of arrested persons to be read their Miranda Rights.
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[Gideon v Wainwright] 1963 (6th amendment)
Indigent criminal defendants should be provided council at trial.
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[Furman v Georgia] 1972 (8th amendment)
the death penalty, as then imposed, classed as a cruel and usual punishment. The consequence of this case included the more widespread use of a lethal injection and of two stage trials.
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[Atkins v Virginnia] 2002
The court ruled that the execution of mentally retarded criminals was unconstitutional.
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[Roper v Simmons] 2005
Unconstitutional to sentence anyone to death for a crime they committed under the age of 18.
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[Baze v Rees] 2008
decided that the lethal injection did not violate the 8th amendment.
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[Jackson v Hobbs v Miller v Alabama] 2012
Ruled that a mandatory life sentence without chance was unconstitutional when given to a juvenile murderer as it violated the 8th amendment. It was seen as an extension of the 2005 case [Roper v Simmons].
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[Webster v Reproductive health Services] 1989
Upheld a Missouri law that imposed restrictions on the use of state funds for abortions.
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Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v Casey 1992
Placed tighter restrictions on abortion. A woman must receive counselling and wait 24 hours before making a decision on abortion and must produce a signed document of approval from spouse. Restricted a woman’s abortion rights.
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[Swann v Charlotte Board of Education] 1971
upheld busing programmes that aimed to speed up the racial integration of public schools in the US due to racially segregated housing patterns.
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[Adarand Constructors v Pena] 1995
Racial classification by federal government is subject to strict scrutiny.
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[Gratz v Bollinger] 2003
held that affirmative action in Michigan’s admission process was unconstitutional.
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[Grutter v Bollinger] 2003
Overruled the previous case and held that affirmative action was constitutional for Michigan law school.
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Parents Involved in Community Schools v Seattle AND Meredith v Board of Education 2007
Declared it unconstitutional to assign students to state schools purely for achieving racial balance.
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[Fisher v Texas] 2013
court ordered lower courts to exercise strict scrutiny of university admission procedures that included race as one of the selection criteria.
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[National Federation of Independent Business v Sebellious] 2012
Court held that Obamacare was constitutional because of the ‘commerce clause’. It was not a penalty, but a tax, allowable by the constitution.
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[Arizona v US]
Struck down 3 provisions of an Arizona immigration law as they encroached on the congressional authority to regulate immigration, thus the court can also protect the powers of congress.
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Cases of judicial review checking on congressional power?
[US v Lopez], [Sebellius], [Arizona v US]
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[Clinton v NY]
Line veto unconstitutional.
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[US v Nixon]
declared Nixon’s refusal to hand over the White House tapes as unconstitutional.
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[Clinton v Jones] 1997
Court declared Clinton’s claim of immunity to prosecution in a sexual harassment case to be unconstitutional.
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[Hamdan v Rumsfield] 2006
Court declared the military commissions set up by Bush to try Guantanamo Bay detainees to be unconstitutional.
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Cases for court checks on executive?
[Clinton v NY], [US v Nixon], [Clinton v Jones], [Hamdan v Rumsfield].
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Checks on court by congress?
Impeachment (Thomas Porteous 2010), initiate constitutional amendments (4/27 overturn SC rulings), Reject nominees (Bork, Harriet Miers resigned), How many justices sit, e.g. Judiciary act 1866 established 7 justices. However Act of 1869 9 judges.
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What did Judiciary Act 1866 establish?
Judiciary act 1866 established 7 justices. However Act of 1869 established 9 justices.
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Checks by president?
Legislation to overturn rulings, nominates justices, Criticise court ruling, power of pardon.
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Example of president signing into law legislation that overturns court rulings?
For example Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act overturning the ruling in [Ledbetter v Goodyear] that made it much harder for workers who were victims of unlawful pay to obtain compensation for that discrimination.
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Example of president nominating judges.
Obama nominated Sotomayor and Kagan. They are then appointed for life, e.g Rehmquist was appointed by Nixon and served until he died in 2005, carrying on a conservative ideology.
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Example of president criticising a SC ruling?
following [Texas v Johnson], Bush described it as ‘wrong, dead wrong’.
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Example of power of pardon?
President has the power of the pardon. For example Randy Eugene Dyer was pardoned in 2011 despite drug trafficking. However he was pardoned due to showing remorse and becoming religious.
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How many people did Obama pardon in first term?
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Other checks on court?
Court has no enforcement Court has no initiation power, has to wait for cases to be brought forward. Public opinion can check on a court. Some parts of constitution are ambiguous and therefore not open to interpretation by the courts. check own.
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How often does Roberts court issue conservative/liberal decisions?
Roberts court issues conservative decisions 58% of the time, compared to rge Warren’s court which issued conservative rulings 34% of the time. However may be due to more partisan decisions of congress and the public in general.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Loose constructionalist?


A justice of the SC who interprets the constitution in a loose or liberal fashion and who tends to stress the broad grants of power ti the federal government. For example, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan.

Card 3


Judicial Activism?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Judicial Restraint?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Judicial Review?


Preview of the front of card 5
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Fantastic flashcards! Lots of tasty SC decisions which is great. I may be wrong, but Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) didn't exactly 'overturn' Gratz v. Bollinger (2003). Grutter just asserted that Affirmative Action + race could play a role in admissions to the law school, which does not affect the decision in Gratz where specifically the law school's admission point system was declared unconstitutional. I might be wrong tho :D

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