Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John Marhsall is watching you

Today I awoke at 8:45, which was great because I felt very refreshed. After getting dressed and organizing my dorm a bit, I went to John Jay and enjoyed breakfast with Lucas, Morvarid, Aurea, and Tomi. Then I went to class, ready for another day filled with law.

Jeffrey taught the morning session, and what we did was go over the briefs and Supreme Court cases we read last night. First, we discussed Federalist 10 and 51, both written by James Madison. Federalist 10 was mainly trying to persuade the public to support the baby Constitution. Federalist 51 gave suggestions on separation of power for the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judiciary. We concluded that the legislative branch is the strongest, so it's divided into sub-sections that aren't connected.

Then we moved on to the very fun part: Supreme Court cases! We read three last night, one was a briefing and the other two were complete descriptions of the cases. What these three cases have in common is an issue of powers between the judicial and legislative branch.

In Marbury v. Madison, John Adams appointed Marbury as a Justice of Peace, but since his commission hadn't been delivered, new president Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize his position as a justice. Jefferson ordered Secretary of State Madison to withhold Marbury's commission. When Marbury discovered this, he sued Madison. While Marbury did not end up being a justice, this case is so important because it was the first time the Supreme Court declared a law unconstitutional. The judiciary act was declared illegal because it gave the Supreme Court authority that was denied by Article III of the constitution. The legal questions that pertain to this case are:

1. Is there a right to commission? (yes)
2. If yes, does the law help him? (yes)
3. IF yes, is it a writ of mandate? (no)

The next case was a briefing, Ex Parte McCardle. After the Civil War, Congress imposed a military government on many former confederate states as authority of Civil War reconstruction acts. This case was dismissed on grounds of wanted jurisdiction. The legal questions we came up with for this case were:

1. Does Congress have the power to question taking the Supreme Court's case? (yes)
2. Must the court have to review this case that already has jurisdiction? (yes)

The final case we read was McCulloch v. Maryland. Many states did not approve of the Banks of the United States, so Maryland decided to pave the way and set an example by imposing a tax on all banks not chartered by the state. Andrew McCulloch, who worked in a Baltimore bank, refused to pay the tax and Maryland sued him. This case "established principles that the federal government possesses broad powers to pass a number of types of laws and that states can't interfere with any federal agency imposing a direct tax on it." The legal questions we came up with for this case were:

1. Does Congress have the power to incorporate a bank? (yes)
2. If yes, can Maryland tax the bank? (no)

After class, I went to John Jay and ate lunch with Tomi, Morvarid, Aurea, Rowland (who is taking Presidential Powers, Demi (Morvarid's suitemate), and Joyce (Demi's friend). Rowland is from Los Angeles and took Constitutional Law last summer and is friends with Irene Tait and Eric Wang (ILCers who took the course last year). Demi is from Taiwan and is taking Biomedical Engineering. I didn't get to talk too much to Joyce but she was very sweet and is also from Taiwan. What I really love about this summer experience about Columbia is that I am meeting so many different people who are international students! My roommate is from Lebanon, three friends from my class are from Cairo, I met a boy with wonderful fashion sense who lives in Milan, Italy, I've had great conversations with girls from Turkey, and now I have friends from Taiwan and even Hong Kong.

After lunch, I went back to my dorm and took a quick nap before heading back to the afternoon session. This session was led by our other instructor, Luke. Aside from completing his 5th year in his PhD at Columbia, Luke is from Canada and is very interested in political theory. He led a discussion about interpretation of the constitution, which is very controversial seeing as though the constitution is very vague.  After the discussion, we watched two films:
  • Our Constitution: A Conversation with Supreme Court Justices - Two retired Supreme Court justices talked to a group of teenagers at an information session about the Supreme Court. They stated that the constitution was made because "everyone was arguing and needed to come together." The constitution provides a civilized way to solve problems and it lays out how to run a country. People can't live their lives if the law keeps changing and the constitution has lasted longer than any constitution in the world. We also learned that in terms of the Supreme Court picking a case based on merit, the merit of the case is the claim, not the person who submitted it.
  • The Supreme Court: One Nation Under Law - The Supreme Court is a human institution that speaks with a strong voice. At first, justices were unsure of how much power they had. Then, Chief Justice John Marshall came along and is credited as having "created the Supreme Court." John Marshall wanted to make the justices more comfortable with one another, so he had them live in the same boarding house and they shared meals and social gatherings with one another. Next fact! The Supreme Court was created in the late 1780's but wasn't established as a constitutional court until it was given reason to. All of the justices were federalists, and new president Thomas Jefferson hated them just as much as they hated him. Jefferson and the justices suffered many controversies with one another. While Marshall didn't fear Jefferson, he did fear the demagogic new president Andrew Jackson, who did what he wanted to "because he could." Marshall deemed Jackson's decision to exile the Cherokees on the "Trail of Tears" illegal and considered it one of "America's greatest tragedies." John Marshall died in the 1830s but left a lasting impression on America's justice system.
I found both of these films to be absolutely stimulating. It was also nice to take a break from lecturing and note-taking and use visual learning. We had three readings tonight, which I happily completed before starting this blog:
  • Youngstown & Tube Co v. Sawyer
  • Ex Parte Milligan 
  • Clinton v. Jones
So many notes!
Going to the concert!
After class, we had our meeting with Ms. L. We mainly went over textbook issues. I was thankful to wake up this morning with an email from my mom telling me she had ordered my textbook after reading my issue on my blog (thanks Mom!). We then went over the talk of residential trips. After much contemplation, Aurea, Morvarid, and I have decided to attend the FREE Maroon 5 concert in Central Park with an R.A. on Friday. The catch? It's at 5 in the morning. However, I think we are all willing to go to sleep very early on Thursday night to be able to see the concert. We're even planning an all-day trip to Times Square on Saturday with Tomi and others and also hope to see either Wicked or War House on Broadway. There are a million activities to do through Columbia.

After our meeting, Aurea, Morvarid, Tomi, and I ate dinner together and then separated to study. I stayed in my room and read up on the cases, and then later went with Aurea and Morvarid to do laundry. I'm happy to say that I was successful in doing my laundry, and a big thanks to Aurea to running around to get us coins! We also meet Myra, a Turkish girl who goes to school in Germany and Evan, who is taking Intro to Business and actually goes to Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, which is only about forty minutes away from El Cerrito! It truly is a small world.

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