Shared Flashcard Set


Federal Judicial Power
Constitutional Law - July 2012 Bar Exam (Iowa)

Additional Law Flashcards










For a case to be heard in federal court, it must be justiciable, meaning a case or controversy exists.


To determine whether a case or controversy exists, the case must satisfy: R.A.M.P.S.


1)  Ripeness; 2) Abstention; 3) Mootness; 4) Political question; and 5) Standing.






Ripeness and Mootness



Ripeness means that a case is sufficiently developed



Mootness means that a case involves a live controversy.  If the circumstances causing P's asserted harm cease to exist after P files suit, the case must be dismissed as moot.  Except if 1) wrongs capable of evading review; 2) voluntary cessation by D (D ceased the acts giving rise to P's suit, but can resume acts at any time; and 3) Class acction law suits (only 1 member of class must have an ongoing injury).








Under the Pullman Abstention Doctrine, the federal courts should not adjudicate the constitutionality of state enactments fairly open to interpretation until the state courts have been afforded a reasonable opportunity to pass on them. 

For Pullman abstention to be invoked, three conditions must be apparent:

  1. There must be a state law issue that is potentially dispositive;
  2. That state law must be unclear; and
  3. That disposing of state law will avoid constitutional questions.







A party must have standing to have a claim heard in federal court.  Standing requires: 1) Injury (present or likelihood of imminent injury); 2) Causation and redressabilityNo Generalized Grievances.  Congress can't automatically confer standing but can create new rights. 


Third-Party Standing is only allowed under certain exceptions: 1) Doctor:Patient; 2) Organization on behalf of members; 3) injured party unlikely to assert their own rights.





Political Question


Federal courts will not adjudicate certain constitutional issues.  4 non-justiciable political questions: 1) "Republican form of government"; 2) President's conduct on foriegn policy; 3) impeachment and removal proceedings; and 4) partisan gerrymandering.


a few Non-political questions deemed justiciable: 1) legislative apportionment; 2) arbitrary exclusion of congressional delegates; and 3) production of presidential papers/communications.





Supreme Court Review


The three methods of Supreme Court Review:


1) Discretionary review -- writ of certiorari;

2) Mandatory review -- appeals from three-judge district court panels regarding injunctive relief (this bypasses the courts of appeal); and

3) Original Jurisdiction -- suits between states.


Final judgment requirement - from lower federal courts or highest state court; can't review state court decision rested on adequate state law ground. 





Sovereign Immunity


The 11th Amend. bars suits against state governments in federal court.  Federal courts can't hear claims from a private party or foreign govt. against a state govt.


Exceptions- 1) State waives immunity; 2) suit involves enforcement of §5 of the 14th Amend.; 3) federal govt brings the suit; or 4) bankruptcy proceeding.


Suits against state officers can be brought in federal court if suit involves 1) claim for injunctive relief for violation of Const. or federal law; or 2) a claim for $ damages paid by state officer personally.

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