The bumpy road to a more perfect union
The Constitution was drafted in a profoundly different world, but more than two hundred years later, this document continues to affect the most important areas of Americans’ lives.
At the Annual Constitutional Law Symposium 2019, you’ll explore hot topics in modern constitutional law, as well as take a look back at the Founding Fathers’ original struggles to create and ratify a document that would serve the needs of a diverse citizenry.
Common good>personal liberty?
In 2000, the CDC declared that the measles—one of the world’s most contagious diseases—was eliminated in the United States.1 In 2018, an outbreak occurred north of New York City. To date, measles cases have been confirmed in 31 states,2 threatening to reverse the U.S.’s measles-elimination status.
With the re-emergence of this extremely infectious virus has also come the age-old question of individual liberty vs. the common good: what can public health officials do when faced with a contagious disease outbreak but are limited in their ability to require mandatory medical treatments such as vaccinations? Using modern due process analysis, predict what a court might do when facing a due process challenge to government actions taken to protect public health.
8th Amendment challenges to civil forfeitures
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Under controversial civil asset forfeiture laws, the police can seize and keep a person’s assets without having to prove a crime was committed. The potential financial incentive has led to more aggressive policing tactics around the country; some municipal and country agencies have gone as far as to use forfeiture funds to supplant their entire departmental budgets.3
In May 2013, the police seized a man’s Land Rover because they said he used the vehicle to deal heroin. In Timbs v. Indiana, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states are barred from imposing excessive fines. While the Court didn’t rule whether seizing Timbs’ car qualified as “excessive,” explore how this sweeping ruling could limit future seizures by local and state police.
Based on recent Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), Lee Malvo challenged his life imprisonment sentence because he was under age 18 at the time of the D.C. sniper attacks. The Fourth Circuit affirmed that Malvo should be resentenced, but Malvo’s chance for parole is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court. Discuss how the outcome of Mathena v. Malvo might impact the substantive rights of juvenile prisoners.
Time to put billeting to bed?
“No Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Forced quartering of British troops was one of the intolerable acts that led to the Revolutionary War,4 but in today’s modern world, the Third Amendment seems to have no direct constitutional relevance. In fact, it’s the least litigated of all amendments.5 Was the original intent to restrict the government’s ability to intrude into private citizens’ lives or to give the Executive Branch expansive power in times of war? Weigh the supporting arguments for each train of thought.
2Measles Cases and Outbreaks
3Asset Seizures Fuel Police Spending
4The Third Amendment: Text, Origins, and Meaning
5Quartering of Soldiers