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Ex parte McCardle

Ex parte McCardle


Facts about Ex parte McCardle

This case occurred after McCardle was arrested in 1867 by federal authorities for writing a series of editorials in a Mississippi newspaper.  The editorials strongly denounced the Reconstruction, and McCardle soon filed a writ of habeas corpus that stated the grounds on which he was arrested were unconstitutional. 


McCardle claimed that Congress did not have the authority establish a military government in the South under the Constitution.  The Military Reconstruction Act of 1867 ordered federal courts to grant habeas corpus to people who were being held unconstitutionally.  The Act also allowed the Supreme Court to hear appeals after judgement from circuit courts. 


Ex parte McCardle

McCardle’s habeas corpus was initially denied by the circuit court, and the Supreme Court continued to hear the appeal.  The arguments were heard by the Supreme Court, but on March 27, 1868, Congress repealed the portion of the 1867 Act that gave authority to the Supreme Court to hear appeals in the past or present in any jurisdiction.  Two issues arose out of the decisions by Congress to repeal part of the 1867 Act. 


Issues in Ex parte McCardle

The two issues presented during this case include the following:


·         Can Congress make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court if the Court was already granted jurisdiction in the first place?

·         Does the Supreme Court always need to determine if it has jurisdiction before it hears a case?


During the findings, it was ruled that although the Constitution gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction for appellate cases, Congress still have the ability to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction.  Additionally, the Supreme Court must always determine if they have jurisdiction before they review a case. 


Appellate jurisdiction is determined by the Constitution and not by Acts of Congress.  The repeal of the Act removed the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, and therefore the court could not proceed.  When the legislative Act is repealed, it’s as if the Act never existed.  So, the Supreme Court could not make a judgment; all the Court could do is announce the facts of the case and dismiss the action. 


Recent Analysis of Ex parte McCardle

In a recent case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was once again put into question.  The case questioned the Bush administration’s ability to imprison people at Guantanamo Bay because of violations to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions. 


Hamdan filed a writ of habeas corpus for a citizen of Yemen who was a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden.  He was captured and charged in 2004 for conspiracy to commit terrorism.  Hamden claimed the violations in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Court ruled in his favor.  The Court of Appeals overturned the District Court’s decision, and the Supreme Court filed a writ of certiorari in order to hear the case. 


In June of 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that President George W. Bush violated the military justice law and the Geneva Conventions by imprisoning the defendant at Guantanamo Bay. 

Personal Jurisdiction in Internet Cases in the United States

Personal Jurisdiction in Internet Cases in the United States


This term refers to a defendant’s personal jurisdiction based upon their internet activities only.  Normally, defendants are protected from litigation from remote jurisdiction unless the crime was physically committed in the jurisdiction, but jurisdiction becomes blurred when internet users and companies on the internet are brought before the court. 

Several cases highlight the complexities involved in personal jurisdiction in internet cases in the United States.


The “Calder” Test vs. the “Zippo” Test

In Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984), a resident of California sued the National Enquirer in Florida for libel because of statement in a magazine.  The article was written and edited in Florida, but the article was written about a California resident and used references in California.  The court determined that the actions were aimed at the resident in California, and the same applies for the internet.  The court may determine that a defendant’s actions and aimed statements entitle them to prosecution in a certain jurisdiction regardless of how much time they spent on a website or how many contacts they held. 


The opposite occurred in Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc.  The Federal Court found that personal jurisdiction is determined by the amount and quality of commercial activity on the internet.  Interactivity with certain jurisdictions is determined by the website’s features and uses, and an interactive website is more vulnerable to personal jurisdiction than a passive website that simply provides information.  The “Zippo Test” thus splits websites into three main categories: those that conduct business over the internet, those that exchange information with other hosts, and those that simply provide information.


The majority of federal courts use the “Zippo Test” to determine personal jurisdiction. 


Important Cases and Personal Jurisdiction in internet Cases in the United States

Dudnikov v. Chalk  Vermilion

This case involved copyright infringement over eBay.  The plaintiffs sold fabrics and crafts on eBay, and Chalk Vermilion claimed infringement after a certain piece of material was sold.  The plaintiffs asked for the notice of copyright infringement to be withdrawn so their reputation was unharmed, but Dudnikov was notified that the company would file a case with the federal court in 10 days.  Before the company could file a case, the plaintiff’s filed a judgment that stated the fabric did not infringe on a copyright. 


In order to apply personal jurisdiction, the Court asked a series of questions and found the Calder test was met because of Chalk & Vermilion’s actions and the effects it had on the forum state. 


Boschetto v. Hansing

This case was brought forth in California after a resident in California bought a car on eBay from a dealership in Wisconsin.  The plaintiff noticed several problems with the car which were not described by the defendant.  The district court dismissed the case because of lack of personal jurisdiction.  The case went to the Ninth Circuit Court, and in a decision related to the Zippo Test, decided a single transaction was not enough to establish personal jurisdiction.

Government involvement in the Terri Schiavo Case

Government involvement in the Terri Schiavo Case


The Terri Shiavo Case


Schiavo collapsed in her home in 1990 and received massive brain damage after her heart stopped and oxygen was cut off to her brain.  Numerous doctors argued that Schiavo was in a vegetative state with no hopes of recovery, and there was conflict inside Schiavo’s family.  Her husband, Michael Schiavo, petitioned to have her feeding tube removed, but other family members, particularly Terri’s parents, wanted to remove Michael’s rights as legal guardian. 


Government Involvement in the Terri Schiavo Case


There was a massive amount of debate as far as government involvement in the Terri Schiavo case.  The U.S. Supreme Court allows a patient to deny himself or herself of life-sustaining treatment—such as a feeding tube—but there must be “clear and convincing evidence” that the patient is in a constant vegetative state is certain to die. 


There was debate in Terri Schiavo’s case though.  Her parents believed Terri responded to them, but Terri’s husband, and numerous doctors, believed she was permanently in a vegetative state. 


Government involvement in the Terri Schiavo case started in 1993 when Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, tried to have Michael’s rights as legal guardian removed and keep their daughter alive by a feeding tube.  The case was considered three different judges in Florida, but there was conflict between the state courts and the governor of Florida. 


Florida judges ruled three times that Michael Shiavo had the right to remove the feeding tube because she was in a constant vegetative case and there was evidence that she did not want to live by means of the feeding tube.  Terri’s parents and siblings still disagreed and appealed. 

In 2003, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other sought to prevent the removal of the feeding tube and passed “Terri’s Law.”  The law indicated that a patient needed to receive food and water regardless of their condition if they never expressed their wishes in writing (a living will) and the family disagreed to take them off of life support. 


Government involvement in the Terri Schiavo case continued.  Only a year later after “Terri’s Law” was passed, the Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it violated “separation of powers” under the state Constitution.  State Court Judge Greer ordered the feeding tube to be removed on March 18, 2005. 


There was federal government involvement in the Terri Schiavo case as well.  The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the federal courts to hear the Schiavo case, and President Bush signed the bill into federal law.  Many opponents of the bill believed the federal government had overstepped its bounds and unlawfully restricted the power of the states on the Shiavo issue. 


Terri’s parents tried to appeal for a retrial in the federal appellate courts, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  Terri Shiavo died on March 31, 2005—13 days after her feeding tube was removed. 


Shiavo’s case was a landmark case that addressed a person’s rights to their own body.  The case emphasizes the point that difficult decisions like in Shiavo’s case are easier to make if there is a living will established before a decline in health. 

Mickie Most

Mickie Most

Mickie Most Mesothelioma Case:
Who is Mickie Most?
Born on June 20th of 1938, Mickie Most was an English record producer who was responsible for a number of hit singles often issued on his own RAK Records label. 
Most was born in Aldershot, Hampshire. He was influenced by rock and roll and left school at the age of 15. During his early 20’s Most worked alongside local talent in nightclubs and other small venues. Becoming tired of these gigs, Most decided to focus on other aspects of the music industry. Most’s first job was selling records and displaying them on racks in local stores. Eventually he earned a production job with Columbia Records. 
Most earned his big break when he spotted The Animals at a Newcastle club. He quickly offered the band their first single, “Baby Let Me Take You Home”, which later cracked the top 25 in the United Kingdom Singles Chart. The group’s follow-up, “The House of the Rising Sun” became an enormous hit. For his work with The Animals, Most won “Producer of the Year” at the 1964 Grammy Awards. 
Most experienced success throughout the 60’s but hit a rough patch in 1970. Despite this setback, Most established his own production office in London. With Rak Records, Most’s success continued through various artists, including Julie Felix. 
Following his career as a music producer Most served as a panelist on the television talent show New Faces. Most’s judging stile was brutal; his rigid assessments of contestants clearly foreshadowed Simon Cowell’s style. In 1995, Most’s fortune was estimated to be north of 50 million British Pounds. 
How did Mickie Most Die?
On May 30th of 2003, Most died in his home at the age of 64 from peritoneal mesothelioma. Most was cremated at Goldeers Green crematorium. He was survived by his wife, Christina and their three children: Nathalie, Calvin and Cristalle. 
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen. This form of cancer affects the lining that shields the contents of the abdomen. Not only does this lining protect the internal organs from abrasions, but it also provides a lubricating fluid to enable said organs to work and move properly. 
The peritoneum is comprised of two parts, the parietal peritoneum and the visceral. The visceral peritoneum shields several internal organs and comprises the majority of the outer layer of the intestinal tract. The parietal peritoneum covers the abdominal cavity.
The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain and severe weight loss. There is no cure for the disease. The only means of curing the cancer is through extraction of the tumors. This operation is only possible if the disease is caught in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, because of the cancer’s slow-developing systems and innocuous cellular structure, the prospects of detecting the disease in its first two stages are highly unlikely. 
Peritoneal mesothelioma comes in two forms which are differentiated through imaging tests, such as CT scans. The “dry” form occurs when there are multiple masses or one localized mass with little or no ascites. The “wet” form of peritoneal mesothelioma has widespread small nodules, no dominant structure and a presence of ascites. If fluids are located, the process of eliminating is achieved through paracentesis; however, the evaluation of this fluid possesses limited diagnostic significance. 
Peritoneal mesothelioma, like all mesothelioma cancers, is primarily caused by a perpetual exposure to asbestos fibers. 

In re Aimster Copyright Litigation

In re Aimster Copyright Litigation


In re Aimster Copyright Litigation

This case was brought to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after multiple owners of copyrights in the recording industry brought a case against a file-sharing website called “Aimster,” which was renamed “Madster.”


After the creator of the website, John Deep, and corporations owned by him faced lawsuits in the Northern District of Illinois, he appealed the lawsuit and claimed that the website did not necessarily infringe on copyrights. 


The case was argued in the Appeal Court starting June 4, 2003, and the Court affirmed the original verdict on June 30, 2003.  Deep was convicted of copyright infringement. 


In re Aimster Copyright Litigation and the Law

During the appeal, Deep argued that Aimster was not liable for monetary relief because the website met conditions under 17 U.S.C. §512(a).  This subdivision states a file-sharing website is not liable for monetary relief if:


1.       “the transmission of the material was initiated by or at the direction of a person other than the service provider”

2.       “the transmission, routing, provision of connections, or storage is carried out through an automatic technical process without selection of the material by the service provider”

3.       “the service provider does not select the recipients of the material except as an automatic response to the request of another person”

4.       “no copy of the material made by the service provider in the court of such intermediate or transient storage is maintained on the system or network in a manner ordinarily accessible to anyone other than anticipated recipients”

5.       “the material is transmitted through the system or network without modification of its content”


Arguments During In re Aimster Copyright Litigation

Several arguments were made during the appeal.  Firstly, Deep claimed there was “willful blindness” to what songs and how many songs were being uploaded and copied on the website because there was an encryption feature.  The following arguments were also made:


1.       Not all of the music being shared was copyrighted, and of the valid copyrights had expired.  

2.       The file-swapping service would increase the value of the recording because “free riders” were not popular—or people who never uploaded content but simply downloaded material. 

3.       Requests for certain songs were never in Aimsters control because many chat-room messages allowed users to request certain material and make opinions about the music.

4.       The encryption feature was used for other purposes than just copyrighted music.

5.       Aimster gave a person ability to download music they already owned.  For example, if they bought a popular CD but did not have the CD with them, they could download the content from Aimster. 


Ultimately, Aimster did not fall into a “safe harbor,” a copyright infringement law that protects internet service providers from liability against copyright infringement.  17 U.S.C §512(i) requires a website like Aimster to notify and terminate users who repeatedly infringe copyrights. 


The case was similar to the charges brought against Napster.  Internet service providers will now notify users if the content they are about to download is protected by copyright law.  They ISPs will also threaten litigation if the illegal activity continues. 



1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/512

2. https://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarjala/cyberlaw/inreaimster%289c6-30-03%29.htm

Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Pierce v. Society of Sisters


Pierce v. Society of Sisters
Education has always been one of the foremost social and legal issues in the United States.  Free public education flourished in the United States long before it did in the rest of the world, and even locations with relatively low populations tended to have a one-room schoolhouse.  However, not all American children attended public school.  Private schools, and particularly parochial schools, have also played a major role in American education.  In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Supreme Court looked at an Oregon law that would have allowed for what amounted to a ban on private education.


Compulsory School Law and Exceptions


Before the Compulsory Education Act was passed, Oregon already required children to attend school between the ages of 8 and 16.  Both public and government approved private schools were allowed to educate children in compliance with the law, and children who lived too far from schools, were home schooled, had graduated the 8th grade, or were not “normal” (i.e. children with physical or mental disabilities) were exempt from its provisions.


However, the majority of private schools in Oregon were Catholic.  This was because of a long strain of anti-Catholic thought in 19th and early 20th century American public schools.  Public schools at this time often used textbooks that directly denounced the Pope and Catholicism, leading parents to take their children to parochial schools instead.  In 1922, Oregon voters passed the Compulsory Education Act, which eliminated the private school exception to the law and required all children to attend public schools.  This law was advocated by the Ku Klux Klan and others, and was designed to discriminate against Catholic schools, which they claimed were teaching children to obey rulers in other nations at the expense of American nationalism.


The Lawsuit


The Society of Sisters operated one of the Catholic schools affected by this new law, and sued in state court.  After the state court agreed with the Society of Sisters that the law was problematic from a First and Fourteenth Amendment perspective, the Society of Sisters took the case to the Supreme Court for a final ruling.


The state argued that having children exclusively in public schools made it substantially more easy for the state to monitor the quality of education provided to the children.  They also argued that because the Society of Sisters was a corporate entity and not a citizen, it was not entitled to sue using the Fourteenth Amendment, which applied only to individuals.


The court disagreed with this assessment, and ruled in favor of the Society of Sisters.  According to the Supreme Court, the Fourteenth Amendment could indeed be applied to protect both individuals and corporations.  They also ruled that children and parental liberties would be unconstitutionally compromised by the Oregon law, and that parental choice must be allowed to be what determines a child’s education.


Effects of Pierce v. Society of Sisters


This case is widely considered to have been a substantial broadening of the Fourteenth Amendment, with implications that go well beyond education.  If a corporation’s due process rights have been violated, this decision allows that corporation to make a Fourteenth Amendment claim.

Chisholm v. Georgia

Chisholm v. Georgia

Chisholm v. Georgia
Perhaps the earliest Supreme Court case that most Americans are familiar with is Marbury v. Madison.  However, that case wasn’t decided until the 19th century, and many Supreme Court decisions had already been made by that point.  Chisholm v. Georgia was the most important Supreme Court decision of the 18th century.  Ruled on in 1793, this case would lead to the passage of the 11th Amendment, the first amendment to the United States Constitution ratified by the states after the original Bill of Rights.

Chisholm’s Lawsuit

During the American Revolution, Chisholm had lived abroad, and some of his property included bonds held by two men living in America.  After Chisholm died, the executors of his estate discovered that the bonds had been held by people who were important in the revolution.  Because of this, the state of Georgia (which had remained loyal to the British Crown for some time) had confiscated their property and refused to give it back to the estate.

Chisholm’s executors were citizens of the state of South Carolina, and they petitioned the courts for redress of their grievances.  They sued the state of Georgia itself, demanding the money that had previously been confiscated.  However, the state of Georgia refused to appear at any proceedings regarding the case.  They reasoned that states had the right of sovereignty, and that as sovereign entities were immune to being sued by citizens of another state.

The Case Goes Before the Court

Whether states were sovereign, and thus whether they had sovereign immunity from lawsuits, was already a hotly contested political topic in the late 18th century.  The United States had only recently moved from a looser conglomeration of states under the Articles of Confederation to its recent Constitution.

What made the case even more difficult to decide was the fact that there was not really any existing precedent for—well, just about any case at all in the United States under the Constitution.  Since the common law system is based on previous judicial decisions, the court’s ruling in Chisholm v. Georgia would be likely to set precedent.  In the end, the court ruled that states could in fact be sued by citizens, and that the Constitution limited the sovereign immunity to the states.

The 11th Amendment

Someone canny about Constitutional issues might ask at this point, “but don’t states have sovereign immunity today?”  They do.  After the decision in Chisholm v. Georgia, legislators all over the nation realized the flood of lawsuits states could be subject to if citizens were allowed to simply sue them whenever they liked.  Because of this, the Congress drafted the 11th Amendment, which explicitly granted sovereign immunity to the states.

This amendment would eventually gain the ratification needed to become law.  Today, it is only possible to sue a state under very specific circumstances, and those circumstances are those under which the state or nation actually has made an exception allowing itself to be sued.

Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas

Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas


Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas


It can be tough to untangle the web of rules that makes up the modern interpretation of the Interstate Commerce clause.  In Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas, a law in the state of Nebraska was challenged at the Supreme Court level.  This law, which pertained to withdrawing groundwater in the state of Nebraska and transporting it to other states, was challenged by a person with land on both sides of the border.  The question in this case was whether the state of Nebraska could meet the government's strict scrutiny standards for creating such a regulation.


First: A Word on “Ex Rel”

The case of Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas may seem at first glance to have a somewhat strange name.  The “ex rel.” portion of the case title refers to the fact that the state is arguing the claim on behalf of Douglas.  For the purposes of making it easier for citizens to bring suits regarding environmental laws (which every citizen has a small stake in), many states allow ex rel. relationships between the state and petitioners whose case involves a violation of an environmental law.


The Provisions of the Law


According to the state law in Nebraska that was challenged in Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas, groundwater was not permitted to be transported out of the state unless it met several requirements.  The Department of Water Resources had to find that the removal of the groundwater was reasonable, and would not have a negative impact on the future use of groundwater or be detrimental in any other way to the public.  The state the groundwater was being exported to also had to sign a reciprocal agreement with the state of Nebraska allowing for its groundwater to be exported to Nebraska.


How The Case Began


The case in Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas began with a man who had land that crossed the state border from Nebraska to Colorado.  The man, Sporhase, was a farmer, and he pumped water from wells in Nebraska that were used in order to irrigate the fields on both sides of the state border.  Because the state of Colorado, which had water shortage problems, forbade all export of groundwater from the state, no reciprocity deal was possible and this put Sporhase outside of the bounds of the law every time he watered his fields.


Sporhase went to state court in Nebraska to get an injunction against the law, saying that it was illegal according to the powers granted to Congress rather than the states in the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Both the trial court and Nebraska Supreme Court agreed with Sporhase and granted him the injunction.


The Supreme Court's Decision


According to the decision of the Supreme Court in Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas, there was no compelling state interest for the reciprocity agreement.  Since the public welfare and the conservation of groundwater were already required by the statute, the reciprocity agreement simply constituted an illegal restraint of interstate commerce that did not narrowly serve the purpose that the state had put forth for the law.  The reciprocity agreement portion of Colorado's law was therefore determined unconstitutional, allowing Sporhase to irrigate his fields in peace.

Rostker v. Goldberg

Rostker v. Goldberg


What is Rostker v. Goldberg?

Rostker v. Goldberg was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that held that the practice of allowing only men to register for the draft was indeed constitutional. More specifically, Rostker v. Goldberg held that the legislation requiring only men to vote for the draft did not violate the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that Congress acted within its congressional authority to regulate and raise navies and armies when it authorized the registration of only men.

Rostker v. Goldberg was a formal court hearing that spawned from President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to re-establish the Military Selective Service System during July of 1980. This effort prompted by Carter, intended to include women in the Military Selective Service System.

Following extensive hearings, committee sessions and floor debates on the matter, the United States Congress formally enacted the law to apply only to men. In response to this action, several attorneys challenged the gender distinction as unconstitutional.


Rostker v. Goldberg: Background

The Military Service Act allows the President of the United States to require the registration of prospective male military service members. Registration for the draft was terminated by Presidential Proclamation in 1975; however, because of a crisis in Southwestern Asia, President Carter decided to reactivate the registration process in 1980. Following reactivation, Carter sought Congress’ allocation of funds for the purpose of engaging a draft. In addition to funding, Carter recommended that Congress amend that Act to permit the registration and conscription of females as well as males. Congress, in response to this request, only provided funds to register males and declined to amend the act to permit for the registration of women.


Rostker v. Goldberg: The Decision

In a 6 to 3 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that gender distinction was not a violation of the equal protection component of the due process clause to the United states Constitution. As a result of this ruling, the Act stood as passed according to Rostker v. Goldberg.

According to the majority opinion of Rostker v. Goldberg, the existences of combat restrictions indicate the basis for Congress’ decision to exempt women from registering for the draft and the purpose of registration was to prepare a draft of combat troops. Since women were excluded from combat, Congress believed that they would not need to be included in the draft. Because of this relationship, Congress concluded that women did not need to be registered for a draft. 



Rostker v. Goldberg

The last time that the draft was actually used in the United States was during the Vietnam War in 1973.  As of 1975, Congress put the Selective Service (draft system) into “deep standby,” which meant that young men no longer were required to register for the draft because it was no longer deemed likely that the nation would use it.  However, when Congress and the President anticipated potential war with the USSR in the early 1980s, they it decided that it would be a good idea to reactivate draft registration, even if the actual draft was a long way in the future.  This would allow the draft to be started quickly and effectively if the Cold War turned into a hot one.  However, one proposal in the new draft registration legislation threw a lot of Americans for a loop—and it was this idea that would lead to a challenge in the 1981 Supreme Court case Rostker v. Goldberg.


Jimmy Carter's Draft Idea


When Jimmy Carter proposed starting the Selective Service registration process again in 1980, Congress was quick to agree with the need for draft registration.  However, the world was different than last time the draft had begun, and one of the most notable changes was the advancement of the Women's Lib movement and feminism.  Because this was an era when an Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was still on the table to advance gender equality, President Carter proposed expanding draft registration to include women as well as men, ages 18 to 26.


However, this measure met opposition.  Many feminist groups, including the National Organization for Women (NOW) stated publicly that they would prefer for there to be no draft registration for either men or women, but that if there was to be registration it should be equal.  Others pushed for men-only registration.


The Constitutional Challenge


The final law that was passed by Congress regarding Selective Service registration gave rise to Rostker v. Goldberg.  This law called for all young men between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the draft, but made no similar provision for women.


The lawsuit in Rostker v. Goldberg began.  The plaintiffs alleged that the law as currently enacted was discriminatory against women and constituted illegal discrimination and a violation of due process afforded by the Fifth Amendment.  Initially, the case looked as if it was going well: a federal district court judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional.  However, when the case went to appeal,  a federal circuit court reversed the decision.  The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which granted certiorari and made its decision on the case in 1981.


The Supreme Court Decision


As just about any young American knows, women do not have to register for the draft.  This is because the lawsuit in Rostker v. Goldberg was not successful.  The Supreme Court looked at the purposes of draft legislation, which are first and foremost to generate a large number of combat troops specifically.  Because women were not at this time allowed to be combat troops, allowing women to register for the draft would not actually help the draft to achieve its purpose.  This meant that there were valid reasons for the draft to be gender segregated, and the single gender draft registration process continues to this day.

United States v. Wurzbach

United States v. Wurzbach


United States v. Wurzbach


Can federal employees be prohibited by law from soliciting donations for political purposes, and is the statute on the books too vague?  In 1930, the case United States v. Wurzbach decided these issues.  The court's holding in United States v. Wurzbach has had an impact on corruption charges ever since.  Today, we'll take a look at how this case was decided and what the Supreme Court's decision means for elected representatives and other members of the federal government.


The Case Begins


During the 1928 Congressional elections, Republican incumbent Harry M. Wurzbach seemed like a sure bet.  Even when Republicans lost Texas in the 1920 and 1924 elections, Wurzbach won by handy margins.  However, in 1928, the Republican, Herbert Hoover, won the national election and Texas's electoral vote—but Wurzbach was not re-elected.


Wurzbach alleged election fraud and successfully appealed his case to the House of Representatives.  His opponent, McCloskey, had already been a member of Congress for 11 months when he found his title stripped away and he was replaced by Wurzbach, who served until his death.


However, Wurzbach's problems weren't over once he was re-seated in the United States Congress.  He had already been accused of having obtained funds from Congress members and other federal employees to help his primary campaign.  Wurzbach appealed his case to the Supreme Court, because he felt that the law was unconstitutionally vague in what it considered a “political purpose” and who the act applied to.  He also alleged that its constitutionality was compromised because the law didn't specify a punishment.  United States v. Wurzbach decided on these questions in 1930, just after Wurzbach was re-seated in Congress.


The Court's Ruling: No Vagueness for Wurzbach


Wurzbach said that the law was vague about who it applied to, and was therefore unconstitutional.  The court ruled that this may be so, but that even if it was, members of the House of Representatives, like Wurzbach, were specifically mentioned by title in the statute.  This means that even if some other federal employee may have been able to sue due to this vagueness, a sitting Congressman certainly could not.


The Court's Ruling: Law is Constitutional


Wurzbach's second contention was that the corruption law he had been charged under never specifically indicated what a “political purpose” was for the purposes of the statute.  Wurzbach maintained that because Republican primary elections were not governed by Congress, but rather by the Republican National Committee, Congress had no power to enforce a law about whether or not people were allowed to solicit donations from federal employees for these elections.


The Supreme Court quashed this line of argument in United States v. Wurzbach, deciding that Congress should always have the ability to police its own members and ensure that corruption did not occur during any events leading up to the federal election.


The Court's Ruling: Uncertain Punishment


The court held that the law's lack of a specified punishment could be appealed at the time when a punishment was actually issued.  Since Wurzbach had not yet been told what his punishment would be, he had no standing to sue on this basis.