Topic 6. Constitutional Law of the United States, Ejercicios de Derecho. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
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Topic 6. Constitutional Law of the United States, Ejercicios de Derecho. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)

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Asignatura: LEGAL ENGLISH, Profesor: Joan Solanes, Carrera: Dret, Universidad: UPF
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Topic 3. Constitutional Law of the United States

U.S. Constitution (I)

 Historical context and precedents: the liberal American

revolution (1775-1783)

 Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 12, 1776)

 Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)

 Articles of Confederation (March 1, 1781)

 Constitutions of the Colonies-States

U.S. Constitution (II)

 Why a new Constitution? The Federalists vs. Antifederalists

 Federation vs. Confederation

 Is it necessary to include a Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution?

 A separation of powers issue: its design and the relations between federal powers

 Philadelphia Convention (May 25 – September 17, 1787)

 The victory of the Federalists: from a revision of the Articles of Confederation to an entirely new Constitution

 Ratification process

 A controversial legal trick: the rule for ratifying the new Constitution (2/3 of the States)

 Ratification from the old Congress (September, 1787) and all the States (from 1787 to 1790)

 The new Constitution entered into force in June 21, 1788 (after 9 States ratified it)

U.S. Constitution (III)

 Structure of the U.S. Constitution

 Article 1. The Legislative Branch

 Article 2. The Executive Branch

 Article 3. The Judicial Branch

 Article 4. The States

 Article 5. Amendment

 Article 6. Debts, Supremacy and Oaths

 Article 7. Ratification

Foundations of U.S. Constitutional

Law: a normative Constitution

 The value of the Constitution: two historical views

 U.S. Constitutionalism: supremacy, rigidity, judicial

review

 French Constitutionalism: political guide, centrality of

the Assembly and the Law, lack of judicial review

Foundations of U.S. Constitutional

Law: checks and balances

 The aim of the doctrine: avoiding tyranny and securing the freedom of individuals

 The origin of the doctrine: Locke and Montesquieu. The foundation of a liberal Constitution as a reaction to absolutism

 Two evolutions of the doctrine

 A formalist perspective (French revolution): separation of powers doctrine

 A dynamic perspective (American revolution): checks and balances doctrine

 Institutional arrangements under the checks and balances/separation of powers doctrine

 Presidentialism: U.S.A

 Parliamentarism: main of continental Europe

 Hybrid systems: France

Foundations of U.S. Constitutional Law:

judicial review

 A new judicial prerogative: judicial review

 Power to review legislative acts under the Constitution and annul/no apply them in case of unconstitutionality

 The prerequisites for the existence of judicial review: a normative Constitution (supreme and rigid) and a positive conception of judges

 Two models of judicial review

 U.S. Model: decentralized judicial review

 European continental model: centralized judicial review

 The big problem of judicial review: the democratic objection

Foundations of U.S. Constitutional Law: Fundamental

Rights

 The States level: Bill of Rights from the beginning

 The Federal level: gradual incorporation

 The philosophy of American revolution was very sensitive to fundamental rights:

 Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776)

 U.S. Constitution (1787): no recognition of fundamental rights

 Recognized in the States’ Constitutions

 Only recognized and protected against the federal powers or also against the States?

 Bill of Rights (1789-1791): ten first amendments to the Constitution

 Other fundamental rights incorporated by amendment:

 13 th Amendment (1865): prohibition of slavery

 14th Amendment (1866-1868): due process clause, equal protection clause

 15 th Amendment (1869-1870): suffrage for African Americans

 19th Amendment (1919-1920): suffrage for women

 Currently

 Nationally: federal and state courts review legislative and executive acts under the bills of rights recognized in federal and states constitutions

 Internationally: U.S. does not participate in the Inter-American system of human rights

Foundations of U.S. Constitutional

Law: Federalism

 Three dimensions of federalism

 Federalism as a territorial organization of power: historical circumstances, integration of national minorities, multicultural states

 Federalism as a complement of the separation of powers/checks and balances doctrine: the vertical division of power

 Federalism as an efficient system of allocation of powers and competences: subsidiarity principle and economies of scale

 Multiple impact of federalism in the institutional design of U.S.A

 Ratification and amendment of the U.S. Constitution

 Election and articulation of the federal legislative and executive powers

 Relationship between federal and state courts

 Relationship between federal and state law

The New Deal (I)

 The Progressive Era (1890-1930) and the New Deal

(1933-1938)

 New conception of the role of the State in economy and

society: the regulatory state

 New institutional design: the growth of the

administration (the executive, agencies and independent

agencies)

 New concept of public law: new constitutionalism

(“constitutional mutation”) and administrative law

The New Deal (II)

 Transformations of the foundations of constitutional law

 Checks and balances doctrine: less power for the Congress,

more power for the executive (administrative apparatus)

 Federalism: more power for the federal level, less protagonism

for the states

 Judicial review: end of the Lochner era, the start of the era of

deference (rational basis test for economic and social

legislation)

 Fundamental Rights: the only field where judicial review is

strong (strict and intermediate scrutiny)

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