Resource: Case Brief Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., et al. in Ch. 2, section 2-6, “Commerce Powers,” of the text.
Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper in which you define the functions and role of law in business and society. Discuss the functions and role of law in your past or present job or industry. Properly cite at least two references from your reading.
Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.
Business and the Constitution
Learning Outcomes Checklist
After studying this chapter, students who have mastered the material will be able to:
Explain the federal system in the context of the U.S. Constitution.
Describe the purpose and structure of the Constitution.
List the major provisions of the first three articles of the Constitution and explain the underlying assumptions of coequal branches of government.
Identify the powers of Congress that impact individuals and businesses.
Recognize the role of judicial review in interpreting the Constitution.
Understand the various applications and limits of congressional power under the Commerce Clause.
Apply Constitutional restrictions on state regulation of commerce in the business environment.
Explain how the tax and spend powers impact business.
List the major protections in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and explain how they apply in the business environment.
Understand limits imposed on government overreaching by virtue of the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause.
Explain the right of privacy that has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress.
Afundamental knowledge of constitutional law is an important step in understanding the source and application of federal statutory law as well as the power and limits of government agencies enforcing regulations. Business managers and owners should also be aware of the impact of constitutional law and protections of individuals and business entities across a broad spectrum of sectors. In this chapter students will learn:
• The structure of the U.S. Constitution and individual state constitutions, and their respective roles in the American legal system.
• The specific powers granted to the government in the Constitution.
• The protections afforded by the Constitution in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Structure and Nature of the Constitution: Federal Powers
The United States uses a federal system in which a national government coexists with the government of each state. An important concept underlying the federal system is that the federal government has only limited powers to regulate individuals and businesses. States are thought of as having more inherent powers to protect the general welfare of their citizenry with only general constitutional authorization.1 In contrast, the federal government’s power to regulate must be specifically granted by the U.S. Constitution. For example, the Constitution grants Congress the explicit power to collect taxes and to control the issuance of patents and copyrights.
1This inherent power of the state to protect its citizenry’s health, safety, and general welfare is also referred to as the state’s “police powers.”
From a broad perspective, the Constitution may be thought of as having three general functions: (1) establishing a structure for the federal government (including qualifications for certain government offices) and rules for amending the Constitution; (2) granting specific powers for the different branches of government; and (3) providing procedural protections for U.S. citizens from wrongful government actions.
Structure of the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution is composed of a preamble, seven articles, and 27 amendments. The first three articles establish a three-part system of government with three coequal branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The underlying rationale for this structure is that each of the branches exercises its respective powers to ensure that one branch does not exceed its authority under the Constitution.
Specifically, the Constitution begins with a preamble stating the Constitution’s broad objectives (e.g., justice, liberty, tranquility, common defense). The articles then set out structure, powers, and procedures. From a business perspective, it is also important to note that Congress’s powers to directly and exclusively regulate bankruptcy, patents, and copyrights are set out in Article I. Table 2.1 is a brief synopsis of the provisions in each article.
Table 2.1 Overview of Articles in the U.S. Constitution
Article I Establishes the legislative branch (a Congress composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate); sets qualifications for members; grants congressional powers (lawmaking).
Article II Establishes the executive branch (president); sets qualifications for the presidency; grants executive powers (enforcement of laws).
Article III Establishes the judicial branch with a federal system of courts, including a Supreme Court; grants certain judicial powers.
Article IV Establishes the relationship between the states and the federal government; describes how to admit new states to the Union.
Article V Describes the process for amending the Constitution.
Article VI Establishes the Constitution and federal law as the supreme law of the United States over any conflicting state law; authorizes the national debt (Congress may borrow money); public officials must take an oath to support the Constitution.
Article VII Lists the requirements for ratification of the Constitution.
In addition to the creation of federal courts, the Constitution also establishes boundaries of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the legal authority that a court must have before it can hear a case. Both the U.S. Constitution and individual state constitutions contain language that establishes jurisdiction for certain matters to be heard by certain courts. The concept of jurisdiction is discussed in detail in Chapter 3, “The American Judicial System, Jurisdiction, and Venue.”
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