Monday, May 14, 2007


Here's the review post. Don't forget Hima's review at 5:00 today in the pre-law office. Here are the cases we covered. Remember principles of law we covered earlier may appear to the extent they are relevant to our current cases. Also, we discussed Lopez and Wickard in class:
US v. EC Knight,
NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin,
Heart of Atlanta v. US,
US v. Morrison,
SD v. Dole,
Slaughterouse Cases,
Lochner v. NY,
West Coast Hotel v. Parrish


Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain what principles of laws is?

Professor Davis said...

Principles of law are the rules that are developed in cases. For example: congress may place conditions on states if they wish to receive federal funds.

Anonymous said...

can someone refresh my memory about lopez i think i missed that class

Anonymous said...

It's in the Commerce & Spending outline linked on the class page. Here's a relevant excerpt:

5. US v. Lopez (1995) (NOT ASSIGNED)

A. Facts

1. Lopez, a 12 grade student, was arrested for bringing a concealed weapon to school.

2. He was charged with violating the Gun Free Schools Act

B. Issue

C. Holding (5-4)

D. Reasoning (Rehnquist)

1. Fed powers = enumerated and limited

2. State powers = numerous and undefined

3. Congress may regulate

a. Channels and use of channels of commerce

b. Instrumentalities or persons of interstate commerce

c. Activities that have substantial relation to interstate commerce.

4. Accepting gov’t position would require the court to pile inference upon inference to convert commerce power to general police power.

E. Breyer (diss.) Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg

1. Commerce power includes power to regulate local activities that significantly affect interstate commerce

2. Not individual act, but cumulative acts that congress is trying to prevent.

3. Must defer to legislative judgment – rational basis.

Professor Davis said...

While I cannot condone missing class, of course, Lopez was the first case in which the Rehnquist court curtailed congress' commerce power. It ruled that the Gun Free School Zones act was unconstitutional because it regulated strictly local activity that did not have a substantial impact on interstate commerce.

Anonymous said...

what is substantive due process and where does it apply in these cases?

Anglestani said...

Substantive due process is a legal doctrine stating that the government must respect the "substance" of an individual's rights, in other words the nature of these rights. This term is generally used when these rights are murky or not explicitly stated in the Consitution.

It applies to our cases in several ways. However, the main thing you should be aware of is Lochner v. NY. In that case, the Court, ironically, utilized the substantive due process doctrine to strike down a NY state law limiting the number of hours a baker could work. The reasoning was that this state limitation violated the bakery owner's right to contract, a right that is considered a part of substantive due process, since no such right is explicity stated in the Constitution (which later cases that eventually reversed Lochner will mention).

Professor Davis said...

Good answer Anglestani. West Coast Hotel overturned Lochner ruling that the right to contract was not a fundamental right. Government can limit the right to contract as long as those limits aren't arbitrary - and as long as the limits don't violate another part of the constitution. The advantage of substantive due process is that it allows the court to enforce fundamental rights against the states - including the right to privacy. The disadvantage is that it allows the court a lot of discretion to decide what rights are fundamental and they can do so to further their policy positions - like the right to contract.

Anonymous said...

which case is Wickard, I can't find it in the text. Can someone please help

Professor Davis said...

Wickard is the commerce clause case in which the court held that congress could regulate what small farms grow. The court ruled that small farms acting together have a substantial impact on interstate commerce.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the slaughterhouse cases? What did it have to do with the 14th amendment??

What happened in west coast hotel?

what if guns were transported throughout states and sold cheap? Won't Congress take action with this?

propagandhi said...


The Butchers believing that the new 14th Amendment was broad enough to encompass all citizens, not just blacks, complained that the new Louisiana law violated their 14th Amendment rights:

1. It “abridges the privileges and immunities of citizens of the U.S.
2. It denies to the plaintiffs the equal protection of the laws
3. And it deprives them of their property without due process, contrary to the 1st section of the amendment.

They also claim that the law violates the 13th Amendment by forcing them into "involuntary servitude."

The court disagreed:

Privileged and immunities do not mean your right to run a business. Only protects the fundamental rights of all citizens to free governments. Including the right to obtain property and pursue happiness and safety.

Equal Protection portion of 14th Amendment was designed only to remedy discrimination against freed slaves as such this does not apply to you (the butchers).

Due Process is also rejected as the 14th Amendment is not supposed to encroach on states rights.

This view of the court rejects the idea of substantive due process.

The dissent in this opinion formed the core ideas that would be used to support the idea of substantive due process.

1. Purpose of the Amendments was to place rights of citizens within the national protection.
2. The law deprives citizens of liberty and property without due process of law.
3. Evil combated by Amendments was not just slavery but intolerance of freedom.
4. Intended to give voice to the strong national yearning for that time and condition when American citizenship would guaranty safety and liberty.).

propagandhi said...

West Coast Hotel:

WA passed a minimum wage law and West Coast Hotel fought it based on the 14th Amendment. They lost. The court decided that WA was good thus overturning Lochner and Atkins (in which had struck down DC laws regarding minimum wage laws). While this law is no different then Atkins, what the court considers is whether Atkins was good law. Lochner and Atkins had rejected these laws based on the right of contract but the right to contract is not in the Constitution. The 5th and 14th Amendment protect prohibit deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law. But these are not absolute as liberty also requires the government to safeguard against evil.

Big point here is that Freedom to contract is not absolute. Legislature can regulate contracts between employer and employee to prevent oppression.


1. Doesn’t like the fact that the courts have changed their minds. The constitution doesn’t change and your judicial interpretation shouldn’t change the lawfulness of legislation.
2. Constitution’s meaning does not change with the times – economic conditions shouldn’t change the outcome.

propagandhi said...

Guns sales transported across states lines would be interstate commerce and thus subject to regulation. Lopez had nothing to do with the regulation of the sale of guns. It was referring to the right of the federal government to declare areas as gun free zones using the interstate commerce clause.

In Lopez it was stated that Congress can use their commerce power to regulate issues that:

1. Channeled and the use of channels of commerce

2. Involved instrumentalities or persons of interstate commerce

3. Activities that have substantial relation to interstate commerce

They claimed that guns in schools have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Rehnquist rejected this idea just as he rejected the violence against women act in Morrison.

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I have this straight....

Slaughterhouse: No substantive due process

Lochner/Adkins: There is substative due process and it is absolute

West Coast Hotel: There is substative due process but it is not absolute

Professor Davis said...

Yes, that is a good summary of the three due process cases. I would add to Lochner - substantive due process is what the court says it is and it says it is the right to contract.