Business and Personal Law

Chapter 1: The Law and the Courts

Case Study Extended Practice

  1. The Heart of Atlanta Hotel brought a lawsuit against the United States. The hotel wanted the Court to declare a federal civil rights statute unconstitutional. The hotel argued that Congress had gone beyond its power under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states. The hotel stated that it only did business in one state. As a result, the federal civil rights act, which was based on Congress's power to regulate commerce among the states, could not be constitutionally applied to it. The government argued that, because at any given time three-fourths of its registered guests were from other states, the operation of the hotel impacted commerce among the states. Therefore, the federal government could regulate its operation under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution. Do you agree with the hotel or with the government? Explain your answer. Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. United States, 370 U.S. 241 (U.S. Sup Ct.).
  2. While undergoing a radiological examination at Flower Memorial Hospital, Barbara Rome was injured because she had not been securely strapped onto the x-ray table by a student intern. She sued the hospital under a state statute that allowed her two years to bring the suit. The hospital claimed that Rome had used the wrong statute. The hospital argued that because this was a medical case, it should have been brought under the state's one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. In our legal system, who has the job of explaining statutes that are confusing or unclear? Rome v. Flower Memorial Hospital, 635 N.E. 2d. 1239 (OH).
  3. The New Jersey state legislature created a statute that prevented anyone from bringing waste into New Jersey from any other state. Private landfill owners in New Jersey wanted to transport waste from nearby states to their New Jersey landfills. Consequently, they challenged the law in New Jersey state court. They argued that the statute was unconstitutional because the power to regulate commerce belongs to the federal government. The landfill owners won in the district court, but the appellate court reversed that decision. The landfill owners now want to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Could this case have been brought to the federal court in the first place? Explain your answer. Is this the type of case that the U.S. Supreme Court should hear? Why or why not? Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (U.S. Sup. Ct.).
  4. Watson was charged with murder. The victim's best friend testified in front of the grand jury about a telephone conversation. Similar evidence was presented to the petit jury but was later held to be inadmissible by the appeals court. The question of whether the grand jury was responsible for determining the guilt or innocence of the accused was raised. What is your opinion? People v. Watson, 486 N.Y.S.2d 592 (NY).
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