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Copy of Multiple Choice Strategies in Constitutional Law
Transcript of Copy of Multiple Choice Strategies in Constitutional Law
Have a study schedule.
Make sure to stay organized.
Make your own outlines as you move through each course. Ask for help when you are feeling overwhelmed!! The Academic Success Team and your professors are here to help. Getting into the Nitty Gritty of Law School Multiple Choice Questions Multiple Choice Questions have three distinct parts... The Hypo The Call Answer Choices The hypo sets forth a closed universe of facts to which you will be asked to apply the law. This is an example of a question that asks you to think like an advocate.
A state statute provides that any married persons who engage in certain unnatural sex acts as described by the statute are guilty of second degree sodomy, and that unmarried persons who engage in those acts are guilty of first degree sodomy. A married couple was prosecuted for second degree sodomy after engaging in the prohibited acts with each other in a friend's home while at a party. In defense, they asserted that the statute was invalid under the United States Constitution.
The most effective argument in support of the assertion that the statute was unconstitutional is that it violated the couple's constitutional right to:
a) Substantive Due Process
b) Procedural Due Process
c) Equal Protection
d) Freedom of Expression The correct answer is A Substantive Due Process: The United States Supreme Court has not yet held that the right of privacy protects married persons against all state interference in their sex lives, but it has indicated that, at least to some extent, the right of marital privacy is protected by the substantive due process requirement of the 5th Amendment as extended to the states by the 14th Amendment. B is incorrect because procedural due process refers to the receipt of notice and the opportunity to be heard before being deprived of life, liberty, or property. Although the statute appears to discriminate between married and unmarried persons C is incorrect because the couple is not the victim of this discrimination and will not therefore benefit from a ruling that eliminates the discriminatory effect of the statute. Some public displays of sexual conduct have been held to be expression protected under the 1st Amendment. D is incorrect, however, because there is no indication that the couple's activity was intended to be a form of expression. In which of the following fact situations has there most clearly been a violation of the plaintiff's rights under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution?
a) Plaintiff is a black person whose application for state employment was rejected because he failed to pass the state Civil Service examination. Statistics reveal that 10 percent of the black applicants who have taken the exam have passed it.
b) Plaintiff is an American of Mexican descent who was denied admission to a privately owed hospital solely because of her ethnic background, but who received competent professional treatment at a state hospital instead.
c) Plaintiff is a Jewish person who resided in a federally operated housing project and who was excluded from a prayer breakfast held by the federal agency that ran the project solely because of his religion.
d) Plaintiff is a woman whose application for employment as a deputy sheriff was rejected by the county solely because of her sex. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment provides that "no state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" Actions of a county or other political subdivision of a state are regarded as state actions. The fact that the plaintiff's application was rejected solely because of her sex would probably make that rejection invidious, and a violation of her 14th Amendment rights. In A the disparity between the pass rates of black persons and white persons might be evidence that a law is being applied in a discriminatory manner, but it does not establish it conclusively. A is therefore incorrect. Although discrimination based solely on ethnic background may violate the EPC B is incorrect because the 14th Amendment prohibits state action only and the discrimination in B was practiced by a privately owned hospital. C is incorrect for the same reason since the discrimination was practiced by a federal rather than a state agency. D is the correct answer. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment provides that "no state shall...deny to any person within it's jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" Actions of a county or other political subdivision of a state are regarded as state actions. The fact that the plaintiff's application was rejected solely because of her sex would probably make that rejection invidious, and a violation of her 14th Amendment rights. In A the disparity between the pass rates of black persons and white persons might be evidence that a law is being applied in a discriminatory manner, but it does not establish it conclusively. A is therefore incorrect. Although discrimination based solely on ethnic background may violate the EPC, B is incorrect because the 14th Amendment prohibits state action only, and the discrimination in B was practiced by a privately r owned hospital. C is incorrect for the same reason since the discrimination was practiced by a federal agency rather than a state one. This question wants you to take on the role of the judge.
A federal statute directs payment of federal funds to states for use in the improvement and expansion of state hospital facilities. The terms of the statute provide that "No state shall award a contract for hospital improvement or expansion financed in whole or in part by funds received under this section unless said contract requires that the contractor pay its employees a minimum wage of $10 per hour." A state contracted with a builder for the construction of a new wing on the state hospital after receiving funds for that purpose under the federal statute. The contract did not require the builder to pay its employees a minimum wage of $10 per hour. Upon learning this, federal officials demanded that the state either modify its contract with the builder or return the funds received under the statute. When the state refused, the federal government sued the state in federal court for return of the money. In the action by the United States against the state, the court should find for:
a) the state, because fixing the minimum wage of employees is a traditional state function.
b) the state, because the regulation of hospitals and of construction practices are traditional state functions.
c) the United States, because Congress has the power to regulate the way in which federal funds are spent.
d) The United States, because some of the materials used in hospital constructions are traded in interstate commerce. The correct answer is C. Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, Congress has the power to make laws regulating the use of federal money disbursed pursuant to the spending power. This may enable Congress to control functions that are traditionally those of the state. A and B are therefore incorrect. D is also incorrect because even though an intrastate activity may be controlled by Congress under the Commerce Clause if its impact on interstate commerce justifies regulation to promote or protect interstate commerce, the fact that some of the materials used are traded in interstate commerce is not, alone, sufficient to establish such an impact. steps to finding the correct answer quickly Read the call of the question
before reading the hypo. The call of the question helps you to
focus when reading the hypo in the body
of the question. Now we know to focus, when reading the hypo, on Supreme Court jurisdiction to review state court decisions. Answer the question to yourself
before looking at the choices. Each multiple choice question is like a mini-essay. To answer the question to yourself, you must
Identify facts and law implicated by these facts, and then
Apply the law to the facts to answer the question. Now that we have formed an answer, we can check the answer choices and eliminate those that are incorrect.
Recall that the question is whether the Supreme Court
has jurisdiction to review the decision of the
municipal court. Sounds like what we decided in our analysis. The "if" clause adds the facts after "if" [in this case, "State laws do not permit appeals from judgments of city municipal courts"] to the hypo for the purposes of this answer choice only. In effect, it is saying, "State laws do not permit appeals from judgments of city municipal courts. Given that fact, does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction?" Let's walk through an example. Here is the call
of a con law question:
Does the United States Supreme Court have
jurisdiction to review the decision of the city
municipal court? Now that we have a focus, let's read the hypo:
A grocer was convicted by a city municipal court of violating a food safety ordinance. The grocer seeks direct review by the United States Supreme Court. Does the United States Supreme Court have jurisdiction to review the decision of the city municipal court? The issue is whether the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review the decision of the city municipal court.
Federal statutes limit the Supreme Court's review of state court decisions to those of the highest state court to which appeal is possible.
If no appeal is possible in the state courts from a municipal court decision, there is no reason why the United States Supreme Court cannot review a municipal court decision. (A) Yes, because by convicting the grocer, the city municipal court has, in effect, declared the ordinance to be valid under the United States Constitution. (B) Yes, if state laws do not permit appeal from judgments of the city municipal court. (C) No, unless state law specifically authorizes appeal of city municipal court judgments directly to the United States Supreme Court (D) No, because under Article III of the United States Constitution, the United States Supreme Court may only review decisions of federal courts and of the highest state courts. Incorrect, because if appeal to a higher state court were possible, the case would not be ripe for consideration by the Supreme Court until the highest state court decided it. The "No, unless" language tests a fact not found in the hypo. "No, unless . . . " is like saying, "The only way that the Supreme Court would have jurisdiction is if [here comes the part not found in the hypo] the state law authorizes appeal to the United States Supreme Court."
This choice is incorrect, because under Article III of the Constitution, the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is regulated by Congress, and not by the states. Incorrect because this limitation does not appear in the Constitution. The correct answer is (B). Strategies and Resources for practicing When starting to practice multiple choice questions, check your answer against the correct answer each time, before moving to the next question.
Checking each time will help reinforce your understanding if you are correct. If you are not correct, you will have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and review the applicable law before moving on.
Timed testing can wait until you are closer to the exam, and more sure of the substantive material. Sources of multiple choice questions:
2. Glannon Guides
3. Professor's bank
5. Library Reserve
6. Siegel's series Now read the hypo. Choose the correct answer. IRAC.
Apply the law implicated by the hypo to the facts given. Helps focus the mind when
reading the hypo Answer the question to yourself before looking at the choices. Then eliminate incorrect choices. Read the call of the question. (cc) image by nuonsolarteam on Flickr Review of a multiple choice strategy Will you succeed on multiple choice exams if you
know the substantive material and practice, practice,
practice? Yes, unless . . .
Yes, if . . .
Yes, only if . . .
No, unless . . . Read the call before you read the hypo to help focus your mind
on what you will be asked. That way, you will avoid distractions in the hypo. Understand when the answer choices modify or add to the fact pattern set forth in the hypo: Here's where you have to do the
work before checking the answer
choices. Let's do another example of a question
with a modifier in the answer choices. A state law provides that the names of prospective jurors in county courts shall be drawn from the list of county residents holding state driver's licenses. The plaintiff, a resident of Linn County, is a 22-year-old black woman who does not hold a driver's license. She has never been called as a prospective juror in the Linn County Court. In federal court, plaintiff challenges the constitutional validity of the state law, claiming that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of her challenge, the plaintiff offers proof that black women between the ages of 18 and 23 make up a large portion of the population of Linn County, but that no member of this group holds a state driver's license or has ever been called as a prospective juror in the Linn County Court.
If a motion is made to dismiss plaintiff's claim on the grounds that she lacks standing, the motion should be: (A) granted, because the plaintiff does not hold a state driver's license
(B) granted, if the plaintiff has never been called as a prospective juror
(C) denied, if being deprived of the opportunity to serve on a jury is found to be a concrete harm
(D) denied, because the exclusion of black women between the ages of 18 and 23 could deprive the plaintiff of due process if she is ever a litigant in the Linn County Court. Notice how the call
focuses you on standing.
Save time by reading the call
before reading the hypo. (A) [motion to dismiss should be] granted because plaintiff does not hold a state driver's license --
The point of the lawsuit is that the state discriminates against people without licenses, so not having a license would make her case LESS likely to be dismissed. (B) [motion to dismiss should be] granted if the plaintiff has never been called as a prospective juror --
The point of the lawsuit is that the state discriminates against people without licenses by not calling them as jurors, so the fact that she has never been called would make her case LESS likely to be dismissed. (C) [motion to dismiss should be] denied, if being deprived of the opportunity to serve on a jury is found to be a concrete harm. Sounds like our analysis. The "if" clause in this answer choice adds facts to the hypo for the purpose of this choice. In other words, it says, in effect: "the court found that being deprived of the opportunity to serve on a jury is a concrete harm. In light of that fact, should the motion to dismiss for lack of standing be granted or denied?
This looks like the correct answer, but be sure to read all choices before picking one. (D) [motion to dismiss should be] denied, because the exclusion of black women between the ages 18 and 23 could deprive the plaintiff of due process if she is ever a litigant in the Linn County Court. --
Because there is no fact in the hypo indicating that plaintiff is about to become a litigant in the Linn County Court, the possibility that she will be denied due process if she ever does become one is not harm that is imminent or concrete. The concept of standing requires that a person challenging the constitutionality of a statute have some personal stake in the outcome. Usually this means that that the challenger must face some imminent concrete harm that would be avoided if the court grants the relief that he or she requests.
Since plaintiff's complaint is that the law prevents her from serving on a jury, she lacks standing unless being deprived of the opportunity of serving on a jury constitutes a concrete harm. Do the analysis before looking
at the answer choices. Practice makes
perfect! If you don't know the
material, you have a very
slim chance of picking
the right answer choice.
There is no substitute
for knowing the material. Avoid answer choices setting forth
an incomplete rule of law.
For example, "The state law is invalid because it burdens interstate commerce" is an incomplete statement of a rule and an incorrect choice. The fact that a statute interferes with interstate commerce is not by itself sufficient to make it invalid.
A state may enact laws to protect the welfare of its residents, even though those laws impose a burden of some kind on interstate commerce, as long as there is no reasonable, less burdensome way of accomplishing that purpose.