Johnson v. California

Key Facts– The California Department of Corrections (CDC) had an unwritten policy of racially segregating prisoners for up to 60 days when they entered a new corrections facility. Petitioner sues to overturn this policy.

Issue– Is strict scrutiny the proper standard of review for this policy?

Holding– Yes

Result– Strict scrutiny applied to all race-based classifications by the state, with this particular classification remanded for consideration in that light

Reasoning– All government racial classifications are subject to strict scrutiny, because there is a presumption they have a sinister purpose, or could have. Thus, the government must be pursuing a very important end to be permitted to discriminate, and it must actually achieve, or be critical to achieving, that end. Separate is, as a matter of law, not equal. At the same time, prison systems are a place where government power is at its apex, so their obligation to prove they had a prison safety interest in this policy is not completely fatal.

Clinton v City of New York

Key Facts– The US Congress gave President Clinton additional powers under the Line Item Veto Act. He used this to cancel items of new direct spending within spending bills, and New York City sued over lost revenue.

Procedural History-District Court ruled for City of New York, and the Supreme Court took the appeal.

Issue– Can the legislature give the President powers not specified in the Constitution, like the line item veto?

Holding– No, the legislature cannot.

Result– Line Item Veto Act overturned; results of that Act are therefore invalidated.

Reasoning– The Constitution overrules the Congress on the Line Item Veto Act. While Presidents are properly permitted to propose legislation, they cannot then edit that legislation, because that would mean effectively using legislative power, which is not permitted to the Executive under the Constitution.

Slick Willy
Slick Willy