The Constitution in Your Community
Assume that you are working as a legal assistant in a law firm. Your firm has just been retained by Bob Stanton, a local man whose wife, Freda, is suffering from a terminal illness. It seems that Freda has been suffering from severe pain due to her illness and is asking her husband to help end her life. Despite medical assistance and pain medica-tion, Freda says that her pain is unbearable. Bob has retained your firm to advise him on the legal parameters for assisting his wife. Specifically, Bob wants to know if Freda has the freedom to end her life, and if so, how it can be done. Using the laws from your home state, along with the basic standards of due proc-ess discussed in Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and Gonzales v. Oregon (2005), prepare a legal memorandum outlining the legal standards for assisted suicide in your state. Be sure to address (1) whether your state allows for physician- assisted suicide; (2) any criminal laws that exist regarding suicide; ( 3) whether these laws interfere with the right to privacy, liberty, and/ or due process; (4) how your state handles living wills, including the extent to which your state recognizes them, and what is necessary for these individual declarations to be honored in court.
Assume you are working as a legal professional for the Village of Takings, a local government in your home state. Within the village, there is a row of five houses on a street that a local developer would like to obtain for the purposes of demolishing them and building newer and more expensive homes on the lots. The developer has tried to negotiate directly with the home owners, but they have refused to sell their properties. As a result, the developer has sought the assistance of the village, requesting that the government seize the properties by eminent domain and convey them to the developer for redevelopment. The developer maintains that the village and the public would benefit from this transaction because the new homes built on the lots would generate four times the amount of property tax revenue for the village than is generated by the current homes. The village has agreed to acquire the properties via eminent domain. But the homeowners have filed suit in federal court, asserting that the village’s actions violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment because the acquisition of their properties is not for “ public use.” The village needs to respond to the homeowners’ complaint. Using the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London , as well as any other applicable legal or constitutional standard in your jurisdiction, prepare a legal memorandum where you respond to the homeowners’ primary argument that the tak-ing is not for public use.
Locate and review your state’s criminal laws regarding the sale and distribution of obscene materials ( your state’s anti- obscenity statutes). Then read and outline the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas ( 2003), along with the court rulings in United States v. Extreme Associates , 352 F. Supp. 2d 578 ( DCW Pa. 2005); rev’d by United States v. Extreme Associates , 431 F. 3d 150 ( 3d Cir. 2005). Work in teams of two; the first team should prepare a five- minute oral argument presentation wherein they present arguments challenging the constitutionality of the state’s obscenity statute, asserting that it violates the liberty interest protected under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. Conversely, the second team should prepare a five- minute oral argument asserting why the state’s laws against obscenity do not infringe upon any constitutionally protected liberty interest.