Constitutional Foundations and Underpinnings

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Map of the cases listed for being intricate in Constitutional Foundations and Underpinnings in the AP US Government and Politics course from HSLDA.

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Constitutional Foundations and Underpinnings
1 Marbury v. Madison (1803)
1.1 Petitioner: William Marbury Respondent: James Madison
1.2 Background: Marbury (along with several other people) was appointed to a new position made by President James Adams in the last days of his presidency. The positions were not finalized though, which led to Marbury suing for the position
1.3 Questions: Was Marbury entitled to the position President Adams appointed to him? Was a lawsuit the correct way to get this position? Was the Supreme Court the right place to get the requested relief?
1.4 Ultimate Decision: Marbury was entitled to the position, but the court couldn't give it to him because "Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 conflicted with Article III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution" and was thus "null and void."
2 McCulloch v. Maryland (1819):
2.1 Petitioner: James W. McCulloch Respondent: The State of Maryland
2.2 After Congress chartered the second U.S. Bank, the state of Maryland passed legislation to put a tax on their branch of the national bank. McCulloch refused to pay said taxes.
2.3 Questions: Did Congress have the authority to charter the second national bank? Did Maryland have the authority to tax the bank? Was Maryland's law interfering with Congressional authority?
2.4 Decision: Congress had the authority to charter the bank. Maryland did not have the authority to tax the bank.
3 Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
3.1 Petitioner: Thomas Gibbons Respondent: Aaron Ogden
3.2 New York state law granted a monopoly on steamboat operation to the people of New York. Other states did this as well. Some states required boat operators from out of state to pay high fees to sail through their state waters. A steam boat operator who worked between New York and New Jersey, Gibbons, challenged the monopoly over New York boat operation held by Ogden.
3.3 Question: Did New York overstep its bounds by making legislation or taking action on interstate commerce, an area reserved for Congressional intervention?
3.4 Decision: New York's laws were unlawful under the Supremacy Clause, because they conflicted with federal law.
4 United States v. Lopez (1995)
4.1 Petitioner United States: Respondent:Alfonzo Lopez
4.2 Lopez carried a concealed weapon onto school grounds and was charged with firearm possession on school premises. The next day, the charges were dismissed because federal agents charged Lopez with violating the "Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990".which prohibits an individual to knowingly carry a firearm into/onto a school zone. Lopez was convicted and sentenced to six months of jail time and two years of parole.
4.3 Question: is the "Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990" unconstitutional because it exceeds the power of Congress to legislate under the "Commerce Clause?"
4.4 Decision Yes. Since legislation regarding gun possession would be a criminal statute, and gun possession has no effect on interstate commerce, it was unlawful.
5 United States v. Morrison (2000)
5.1 Antonio Morrison vs. United States
5.2 Antonio Morrison and James Crawford were accused of rape by their fellow Virginia Tech student, Christy Brzonkala. Brzonkala filed a complaint under Virginia Tech's Sexual Assault Policy. Following a hearing, Morrison was found guilty and given a two year suspension, Crawford was not punished. Later, there was a second hearing, and Morison was still found guilty, but after an appeal to the school board, the punishment was dropped. Ultimately, Brzonkala dropped out of school, and sued the school and the two men in federal district court, claiming that the men's attack violated "42 USC section 13981" which was part of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Morrison moved to have the case dismissed because the remedy from the act was "unconstitutional"
5.3 Question: Does Congress have the authority to enact the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 under either the Commerce Clause or Fourteenth Amendment?
5.4 No. The Court held that Congress lacked the authority to enact a statute under the Commerce Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment since the statute did not regulate an activity that substantially affected interstate commerce nor did it redress harm caused by the state.
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