FEDERAL COURTS SHALL HAVE JUDICIAL POWER OVER ALL CASES AND CONTROVERSIES
Congress is bound by the standards of judicial power set forth in article III as to subject matter
, and the requirement of a "case or controversy"
. Thus, congress cannot require these courts to render advisory opinions or perform administrative or non-judicial functions.
- Article III courts have judicial power over all cases and controversies:
- -- arising under the constitution, laws, or treaties of the US;
- -- of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;
- -- in which the united states is a party;
- -- between two or more states;
- -- between a state and citizens of another state;
- -- between citizens of different states;
- -- between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states; and
- -- between a state or citizens thereof and foreign states, citizens, or subjects.
FEDERAL REVIEW OF STATE ACTS
Federal review of state executive, legislative, or judicial acts was established in a series of decisions based on the supremacy clause of article VI, which states that the constitution, laws and treaties of the US take precedence over state laws and that the judges of the state courts must follow federal law, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
USSC has original jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party. Congress may not restrict or enlarge the USSC's jurisdiction but it can give concurrent jurisdiction to lower federal courts and has done so in all cases except those between states.
Article III provides that "in all other cases before mentioned, the USSC shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the congress shall make."
Congress has provided two methods for invoking USSC appellate jurisdiction: appeal and certiorari.
The USSC has complete discretion to hear cases that come to it by writ of certiorari. A case will be heard if four justices agree to hear it. The following cases may be heard by certiorari:
-- cases from the highest state courts where -- the consitutionality of a federal statute, federal treaty, or state statute is called into question; or -- a state statute allegedly violates federal law; and
-- all cases from federal courts of appeals.
The USSC must hear those few cases that come to it by appeal. Appeal is available only as to decisions made by three judge federal district court panels that grant of deny injunctive relief.
CONGRESSIONAL REGULATION OF USSC APPELATE JURISDICTION
Congress has full power to regulate and limit the USSC's appellate jurisdiction, but possible limitations on such power have been suggested:
-- congress may eliminate certain avenues for USSC review as long as it does not eliminate all avenues
-- congress may eliminate USSC review of certain cases within the federal judicial power, but jurisdiciton must remain in some lower federal court
-- if congress were to deny all USSC review of an alleged violation of constitutional rights this would be a violation of due process.
JUSTICIABILITY: POLICY OF STRICT NECESSITY
Whether a case is justiciable depends on whether a case or controversy is involved, and on whether other limitations on jurisdiction are present.
Must be a case or controversy -- thus no decisions in moot cases, collusive suits, or cases involving challenges to gov'tal legislation or policy whose enforcement is neither actual nor threatened.
Case must be ripe -- will not hear a case unless the plaintiff has been harmed or there is an immediate threat of harm.
Exception for mootness if the case is capable of repetition but evading review -- must be a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party will be subjected to the same action again and would again be unabe to resolve the issue because of the short duration of the action
Exception for class actions -- class representative may continue to pursue class action even if rep's case is moot as long as class members still have live controversies
Ripeness requirement bars claims before they have become controversies, mootness bars claims after the controversy has been resolved.
A litigant must have standing to contest a constitutional issue and has standing only if she can demonstrate a concrete stake in the outcome of the controversy.
To show standing, must show an injury in fact that will be rememdied by a decision in her favor:
-- injury must be specific and more than the merely theoretical injury that all persons suffer by seeing their gov't engage in unconstitutional actions
-- injury must have been caused by the conduct complained of
-- must be redressable -- a ruling for plaintiff would eliminate the harm
STANDING TO ASSERT RIGHTS OF OTHERS
A plaintiff may assert third party rights where he himself has suffered injury and
-- third parties find it difficult to assert their own rights (ie, NAACP for anonymous membership)
-- the injury suffered by the plaintiff adversely affects his relationship with third parties resulting in an indirect violation of their rights (ie, vendor of beer)
STANDING OF ORGANIZATIONS
An organization has standing to challenge gov't action that causes injury to the organization itself. It also has standing to challege gov't actions that cause injury in fact to its members if the organization can demonstrate:
-- there must be an injury in fact to the members of the organization that would give individual members a right to sue on their own behalf;
-- the injury to the members must be related to the organization's purpose; and
-- neither the nature of the claim nor the relief requested requires participation of the individual members in the lawsuit.
Taxpayers generally do not have standing to challenge the way tax dollars are spent by the state or federal gov't because their interest is too remote.
- However, a federal taxpayer has standing to challenge federal appropriation and spending measures if she can establish that the challenged measure:
- -- was enacted under congress's taxing and spending power; and
- -- exceeds some specific limitation on the power.
So far, the only specific limitation the USSC has found has been the establishment clause.
Legislators may have standing to challenge the constitutionality of gov't action if they have a sufficient personal stake in the dispute and suffer sufficient concrete injury.
An assignee of a legal claim has standing even if the assignee has agreed to remit any proceeds recovered from the litigation back to the assignor, if this is done pursuant to an ordinary business agreement made in good faith.
ADEQUATE AND INDEPENDENT STATE GROUNDS
The USSC will hear a case from a state court only if the state court judgement turned on federal grounds. The court will refuse jurisdiction if it finds adequate and independent state grounds to support the state decision.
-- Adequate means they are fully dispositive and even if the federal grounds were decided wrongly, it would not effect the outcome of the case.
-- If the state court's opinion was based on federal law interpreting an identical federal statute, the state law grounds are not independent.
If the basis of the state court's decision is unclear the USSC may remand to the state court for clarification. But the Court will usually assume there's no state law grounds if they aren't stated in the state court's opinion.
11TH AMENDMENT LIMITS ON JURISDICTION OF FEDERAL COURTS
The 11th amendment will prohibit a federal court from hearing a claim for damages against a state gov't (although not against state officers) unless:
-- the state has consented to allow the lawsuit in federal court;
-- the plaintiff is the US or another state; or
-- congress has clearly granted federal courts the authority to hear a specific type of damage action under the 14th amendment.
The 11th amendment prohibits a federal court from hearing a private party's or foreign gov't's claims against a state gov't.
- The following are barred:
- -- actions against state gov'ts for damages;
- -- actions against state gov'ts for injunctive or declaratory relief where the state is named as a party;
- -- actions against state officers where the effect of the suit will be that retroactive damages will be paid from the state treasury; and
- -- actions against state officers for violating state law.
Congress can remove the states' 11th Amendment immunity under its power to prevent discrimination under the 14th amendment.
- The following are not barred:
- -- actions by the US gov't or other state gov'ts
- -- bankruptcy proceedings;
- -- actions against state officers to enjoin them from violations of federal law
- -- actions against state officers that will result in prospective payments