Constitutional Lawyers

Constitutional Law / Civil Rights Attorneys

Constitutional lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in interpreting and applying the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land in the United States. Their work involves analyzing the text and history of the Constitution and the rulings of the Supreme Court and other federal and state courts to advise clients on a wide range of legal issues related to constitutional law.

Here are some of the tasks that a constitutional lawyer may be involved in:

  • Advising clients on constitutional issues: Constitutional lawyers may provide legal advice on various constitutional issues, such as free speech, freedom of religion, due process, and equal protection. They may also advise on federalism, separation of powers, and other foundational principles of American constitutional law.
  • Litigating constitutional cases: Constitutional lawyers may represent clients before federal and state courts, arguing for their client’s constitutional rights and interests. They may also file briefs and oral arguments before appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Conducting constitutional research: Constitutional lawyers often spend significant time researching and analyzing constitutional issues and precedents, including Supreme Court decisions and legal scholarship. This research may be used to inform legal briefs, arguments, and advice to clients.
  • Teaching and writing about constitutional law: Some constitutional lawyers may also teach courses on constitutional law at law schools or universities or write articles and books on constitutional topics for legal journals and the general public.

Overall, the work of constitutional lawyers is focused on protecting and advancing constitutional rights and principles in the United States and advising clients on navigating legal issues related to these topics.

Unique & Expansive Rights in the US

The concept of rights can be complex and contentious, and there is debate among legal scholars and human rights activists about what rights should be considered universal and inalienable. That being said, here are a few examples of rights that are unique or more expansive in the United States than in other countries:

First Amendment Rights

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly, and petition. While many countries have similar protections for free speech and freedom of the press, the U.S. provides more expansive protections than others.

Second Amendment Rights

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to bear arms. While other countries have some protections for gun ownership, the U.S. is unique in its emphasis on this right.

Fourth Amendment Rights

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. While many countries have similar protections against unwarranted government intrusion, the U.S. has more expansive protections in this area than others.

Fifth Amendment Rights

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against self-incrimination and double jeopardy and provides for due process of law. While many countries have similar protections, the U.S. is unique in the strength and breadth of its due process protections.

It’s worth noting that some human rights activists and legal scholars argue that many of these rights are not unique to the U.S. but universal rights that should be recognized and protected worldwide. Additionally, there are other rights that some people argue should be considered universal, such as the right to healthcare, education, and a clean environment.

Constitutional Law

Constitutional law is a branch of law that deals with the interpretation, implementation, and application of a country’s constitution. A constitution is a document that outlines the basic principles and rules for governing a nation, state, or other political entity. Constitutional law concerns how these principles and rules are applied and enforced.

Constitutional law establishes the framework for the government’s power and the rights and protections of individuals. It covers a broad range of topics, including the separation of powers, federalism, individual rights and freedoms, the structure and function of the government, and the limits of a government authority.

Constitutional Law defines the relationship between the branches of a nation’s government – its executive, legislative, and judiciary branches – and the relationships between its national (or federal) government and those of its subsections.  In the United States of America, these subsections are officially called states and counties, and various identifications are given to municipalities, such as cities, towns, townships, and boroughs.  The Constitution of the United States defines these relationships, the individual States’ Constitutions, and County and municipal charters.

Constitutional law is considered the highest form of law in the United States. Any laws or government actions that violate the constitution can be challenged in court. Constitutional law is also closely tied to the development of the legal system and the protection of individual rights and freedoms. As such, it is a critical component of many legal systems worldwide.

What is a Constitutional Attorney?

A constitutional lawyer must understand these various defining documents, particularly the federal Constitution and the Constitution of the State(s) in which he practices.  This will enable him to correctly interpret the law in cases relating to the relationships between the national and subnational governing bodies and the relationships between branches of government within either.

A constitutional lawyer specializes in the foundational laws governing various government bodies. A constitutional attorney deals with implementing the constitutional law of the United States. The three main branches of the federal government that a constitutional attorney deals with are the executive, legislative, and judiciary.

Are civil rights part of constitutional law?

Yes, civil rights are a fundamental part of constitutional law. Civil rights refer to the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to all individuals by the Constitution and its amendments. These rights include freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, the right to bear arms, privacy, and equal protection under the law.

The Constitution provides the framework for protecting civil rights, and the courts are responsible for interpreting and enforcing these protections. Many landmark cases in U.S. constitutional law have centered on the protection of civil rights, including Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional, and Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion as a constitutionally protected right.

A Short Legal History of America

American history and legal history go well together because the establishment of the current government of America is based on the changes and adaptation of legal status throughout American history. When the United States was first formed, it was governed under a unicameral system of government known as the Articles of Confederation. Under this, America was run by one specific body known as the Congress of the Confederation.

This governing body served to govern issues regarding foreign concerns but had no real power over the states. Any laws or implementations the Congress of the Confederation wanted to install did not have to be adhered to. However, the legal history of the United States took a turn when James Madison suggested a bicameral governing system for the United States.

This system, in American history, is known simply as Congress. Congress comprises two bodies: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The articles of the Constitution outline their respective duties and criteria.

The primary purpose of these bodies was to distribute power and to help bring more than one governing body regarding issues regarding the legal history and the status of the United States. Once Congress was installed, the sovereignty of the states was diminished, and they were unified under a government establishment. This is where the powers of the legislative and judicial branches were also reconsidered and redistributed. Throughout legal history, Congress has helped to pass several Acts to secure rights for individuals and states, as well as Amendments that changed how the Constitution functioned.

Recent Notable Constitutional Cases

Here are a few recent notable constitutional cases in the United States:

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (2020)

In this case, the Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex, also covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ramos v. Louisiana (2020)

This case challenged Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury system, which allowed for convictions with only 10 out of 12 jurors agreeing. The Supreme Court held that this system violated the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a fair and impartial jury trial and struck it down.

Department of Commerce v. New York (2019)

This case involved the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Supreme Court held that the government’s rationale for adding the question was “contrived” and violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018)

This case involved a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s case handling violated the baker’s First Amendment rights to exercise religion freely.

Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)

In this landmark case, the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

These are just a few examples of recent notable constitutional cases in the United States, and many others have been decided in the past few years. Constitutional law is a complex and constantly evolving area, with new cases and controversies always arising.