CHAPTER 4. CONSTITUTIAL LAW FOR BUSINESS AND E-COMMERCE. © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Prentice-Hall. Functions of U.S. Constitution. Creates three branches of government ( executive , legislative , and judicial ) and allocates powers to these branches.
CONSTITUTIAL LAW FOR BUSINESS AND
© 2010 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Prentice-Hall
Creates three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) and allocates powers to these branches.
Protects individual rights by limiting government’s ability to restrict those rights.
Federalism and Delegated Powers
Separation of Powers
Checks and Balances
U.S. form of government is federalism.
Federal government and state governments share powers.
Certain powers—the “enumerated powers”—delegated to the federal government by the states.
E.g., federal government deals with international affairs.
Any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states.
State governments are empowered to deal with local affairs.
E.g., states handle education, local public safety issues.
Separation of Powers
The federal government is separated into three branches.
Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative branch of government.
House of Representatives
Role to make federal law.
Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of government.
Provides for the election of President and Vice President
Establishes Electoral College
Role to interpret federal law.
Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the government.
Other federal courts that may be created by the Congress
Role to interpret federal law.
Checks and Balances
Built into the Constitution to ensure that no one branch of the federal government becomes too powerful.
Judicial branch has authority to examine the acts of the other two branches of government and determine whether these acts are constitutional.
Executive branch can enter into treaties with foreign governments only with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Legislative branch is authorized to create federal courts and determine their jurisdiction and to enact statutes that change judicially made law.
Establishes that the federal Constitution, treaties, federal laws, and federal regulations are the supreme law of the land.
State and local laws that conflict with valid federal law are unconstitutional.
The concept that federal law takes precedence over state or local law.
Congress may expressly provide that federal statute exclusively regulates an area or activity.
More frequently, federal, state, and local governments have concurrent power.
Congress has power:
“to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with Indian tribes.”
Federal government has exclusive power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
Direct or indirect regulation by states that unduly burdens foreign commerce is unconstitutional.
E.g., Massachusetts’ anti-Myanmar statute.
The federal government may regulate:
Interstate commerce that crosses state borders.
Intrastate commerce that affects interstate commerce.
Interstate commerce very broadly defined.
E.g., wheat grown for home consumption or refusing to rent motel rooms based on race both tied to interstate commerce so that federal regulation proper.
Broad interpretation gives federal government great power to regulate, so that this clause has greater impact on business than any other constitutional clause.
States have power to regulate private and business activity within their borders (“police powers”).
States may enact laws that protect or promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare as long as the laws do not unduly burden interstate commerce.
State and local governments may regulate:
Interstate commerce not exclusively regulated by the federal government
Examples of state laws regulating business include zoning ordinances, state environmental laws, corporation and partnership laws, property laws.
Area of considerable current litigation.
E.g., Granholm v. Heald (Michigan’s interstate wine ban found to be unconstitutional)
The Bill of Rights provides certain freedoms and protections to individuals and businesses.
Ten amendments added in 1791.
Guarantees certain fundamental rights to natural persons.
Protects persons from intrusive government action.
By federal government
By state governments (“Incorporation doctrine”)
Freedom of Speech– the right to engage in oral, written, and symbolic speech.
Fully Protected Speech
Limited Protected Speech
Political speech is fully protected.
Cannot be regulated or prohibited by government.
Can be oral, written, or symbolic.
E.g., writing editorial criticizing President, or flag burning as protest.
Speech with limited protection – can enact time, place, and manner restrictions.
E.g., offensive language on television may be restricted to late-night hours.
E.g., billboards may be limited to certain locations, telemarketing calls may be restricted by Do-Not-Call registry.
May be forbidden
Dangerous speech (“Fire” in crowded theater)
Fighting words intended to provoke violent reactions
Speech that incites the violent overthrow of the government
Obscene speech (limited exception)
Freedom of Religion – the U.S. Constitution requires federal, state, and local governments to be neutral toward religion.
The Establishment Clause
First Amendment clause prohibiting the government from either establishing a state religion or promoting one religion over another.
The Free Exercise Clause
First Amendment clause that prohibits the government from interfering with the free exercise of religion.
Added to Constitution in 1868.
To guarantee equal rights to all persons after Civil War.
Prohibits discriminatory and unfair action by the government.
Provides that state cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
State, local, and federal governments are prohibited from enacting laws that classify and treat “similarly situated” persons differently.
Artificial persons, such as corporations, are also protected.
Three standards for reviewing equal protection cases.
Strict Scrutiny Test – applied to classifications based on race.
E.g., affirmative action law
Intermediate Scrutiny Test – applied to classifications based on protected classes other than race (e.g., sex or age).
Rational Basis Test – Classifications not involving a suspect or protected class.
Applies to most laws.
Court will uphold law so long as there is a justifiable reason for it.
E.g., providing government subsidies to farmers but not those in other occupations is constitutional.
Under Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, no person shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without due process of the law.
Requires laws to be clear and not overly broad.
Test is whether a reasonable person could understand the law.
Laws failing test are declared void for vagueness.
Requires the government to give a person proper notice and hearing before depriving that person of life, liberty, or property.
E.g., criminal defendant must receive fair trial.
In Article IV and Fourteenth Amendment
To promote nationalism
States prohibited from enacting laws that unduly discriminate in favor of their residents.
E.g., cannot enact a law prohibiting nonresidents from owning property or businesses.
States have sufficient reason in certain cases to treat nonresidents differently—e.g., out-of-state college tuition.
Applies only to citizens, not corporations.