constitutional law

Political Question Doctrine

Federal courts will refuse to hear a case if they find it presents a political question.  This phrase is construed narrowly, and it does not stop courts from hearing cases about controversial issues like abortion, or politically important topics like campaign finance.  Rather, the Supreme Court has held that federal courts should not hear cases which deal directly with issues that Constitution makes the sole responsibility of the other branches of government.


Absolute disparity


A calculation used to analyze a claim that a jury pool did not represent a fair cross-section of the community. Calculated by subtracting the percentage of a group in the jury pool from the percentage of that group in the general population.

Illustrative caselaw

See, e.g. Berghuis v. Smith, 130 S.Ct. 1382 (2010).


Fifth Amendment

fifth amendment: an overview

menu of sources

Federal Material

U.S. Constitution and Federal Statute

Federal Agency Regulations

Federal Judicial Decisions

State Material

State Statutes

Conventions and Treaties

Other References

Key Internet Sources

other topics

Fourth amendment

fourth amendment: an overview

Substantive due process

A doctrine holding that the 5th and 14th Amendments require all governmental intrusions into fundamental rights and liberties be fair and reasonable and in furtherance of a legitimate governmental interest. The U.S. Supreme Court during the middle of the 20th Century used substantive due process to give added force to the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by constraining certain actions by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges.

See due process 

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