Chapter 4 Notes

Chapter 4 Notes - Chapter 4 Constitutional Law HISTORY Won...

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Chapter 4 – Constitutional Law HISTORY Won the “War for Independence”…now what? Needed to establish government Great Debate—Power by population or each state equal? Compromises: 2 legislative bodies, one each state equal, the other by population The fear was accumulation of governmental power in the hands of one person or group. Federalism o The power to govern is divided between the federal and states government. Any powers not specifically given to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people. o The federal government is a government of enumerated powers: a specified power must authorize acts. o Federalism is not a substantial limit on the powers of the Federal Government because of the expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause and the limits on regulation of interstate commerce. o Enabling Clause: grants not only enumerated powers, but right to make laws “necessary and proper” to carry out its powers. Has to be “rationally related” to enumerated powers. Federal Supremacy and Preemption o The U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land takes precedence over all other conflicting law. o Supremacy Clause: if conflict, Federal law controls IF it is within its sphere of authority. o No law—federal or state—is valid if it violates the U.S. Constitution. o Federal preemption refers to the right of the federal government to regulate matters within its powers to the possible exclusion of state regulation. Facts: Karen Silkwood was a laboratory analyst for Kerr-McGee Corporation at its Cimmaron plant in Oklahoma. The plant made plutonium fuel pins for use as reactor fuel in nuclear power plants. Accordingly, the plant was subject to licensing and extensive federal regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act, which preempts Oklahoma's regulation of the safety aspects of nuclear energy. During a three-day work period in 1974, Silkwood was contaminated by plutonium at the plant. Her father, as administrator of her estate, filed a claim against Kerr-McGee under Oklahoma tort law for Karen's personal injuries and property damage resulting from her contamination. On the basis of the jury's verdict, the trial court awarded Silkwood $505,000 ($500,000 for personal injuries and $5,000 for property damage) plus punitive damages of $10,000,000. Kerr-McGee claimed that the federal government's extensive regulations and intrusion into the nuclear energy field preempted the Oklahoma state law allowing recovery of punitive damages. The appellate Court held that because federal statutes regulate nuclear energy, punitive damages could not be awarded. Silkwood appealed. Decision: Judgment for Silkwood. Opinion: The federal preemption of state regulation of safety aspects of nuclear energy does not extend to a state-authorized award of punitive damages. Preemption concerning
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damages for radiation injuries should not be judged on the basis that the federal
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