constitutional law

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

The Supreme Court case that established the power of judicial review. (Read the opinion here).

During President John Adams’ lame duck session of his presidency, he appointed Marbury as a justice of the peace and signed the commission. Soon thereafter, Thomas Jefferson became President of the United States and refused to allow Secretary of State James Madison to deliver the commission to Marbury. Marbury sued Madison in the Supreme Court to get his commission via a writ of mandamus.

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Baker v. Carr (1962)

Definition

A Supreme Court case that held that federal courts could hear cases that claimed that malapportionment of state legislatures violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. By holding that such cases were justiciable, the Supreme Court paved the way for federal courts (and not just state courts) to hear and decide on reapportionment issues.

speedy trial

In criminal prosecutions, the right of a defendant to have a trial within a short time, premised on the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. Each state has a statute or constitutional provision limiting the time an accused person may be held before trial (for example, 45 days). Charges must be dismissed and the defendant released if the period expires without trial. However, defendants often waive the right to a speedy trial in order to prepare a stronger defense or negotiate a plea to a lesser offense.

self-incrimination

Definition

The act of implicating oneself in a crime or exposing oneself to criminal prosecution.  

Overview

Self-incrimination may occur as a result of interrogation or may be made voluntarily. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects a person from being compelled to incriminate oneself. Self-incrimination may also be referred to as self-crimination or self-inculpation.

right to privacy

1) The right not to have one's personal matters disclosed or publicized; the right to be left alone. 2) The right against undue government intrusion into fundamental personal issues and decisions. Although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly state that there is a right to privacy, Supreme Court decisions have found an implicit constitutional right to privacy in striking down laws that criminalize sodomy, the use of contraceptives, and abortion.

one-person, one-vote rule

Definition

The rule that, under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, legislative voting districts must be the same in population size. The idea behind the rule is that one person’s voting power ought to be roughly equivalent to another person’s within the state. See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964).

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