Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Questions and Answers


Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Question 1 is based on the following fact situation.

Florida Airlines flight #1286 was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles, California to Miami, Florida on Tuesday, October 16. Jennie, a resident of California, was scheduled to visit her grandmother in Miami, Florida for a one week vacation. Jennie was also scheduled to fly on Florida Airlines flight #1286. The Florida bound plane departed on time and began its flight toward the southeast. There was one stop in Houston, Texas and another in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once the plane had completed its stop in New Orleans, Jennie felt the strong desire to smoke a cigarette. As such, she went back to the rear of the plane and lit up. As Jennie was enjoying her cigarette, she noticed a sign on the ceiling overhead which read, "Cigarette Smoking Is Illegal On This Flight." Unbeknownst to Jennie, Congress had passed a statute, only two months prior to her flight, which banned cigarette smoking on "all passenger and commercial airline flights within the United States." Congress, in enacting the statute, felt that flights would be safer as the potential of starting an unwanted fire would be eliminated, or at least reduced. Congress was presented results from a study which showed that eighty-seven percent of all fires on board aircraft resulted from the butts of cigarettes being disposed of in an improper fashion. Congress also recognized and cited the Surgeon General's studies which indicated that, "Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health." Furthermore, Congress stated, "There is no inherent right to smoke which is granted to citizens by the United States Constitution."

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Question 1. Jennie is charged with violating the statute making smoking illegal on the flight. If Jennie challenges this statute on constitutional grounds, the court should find the statute

(A) Unconstitutional, as it takes away one's right to life, liberty and property in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (B) Unconstitutional, as it takes away one's right to life, liberty, and property, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (C) Constitutional, because Congress could find that the statute is in the public interest as it acts to protect the health, safety, and welfare of airline passengers. (D) Constitutional, because Congress is exercising its federal commerce power.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Question 2 is based on the following fact situation.

Sometime in July, 1990 problems arose in the Middle East when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The United States, as well as several other countries around the world, became very upset with this invasion. Acting to protect its own interests, the interests of other Middle Eastern countries, and to show its disapproval of Iraq's actions, the United States surrounded Iraq. The United States militia, in the form of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine troops were sent to the confrontation to maintain peace until this new Middle Eastern crisis could be resolved. As negotiations took place, troops and supplies from other countries, as well as the United States, remained in place. Although the United States did not declare war, the U.S. Government did raise and support an army and appropriated money to such use. The United States Government also provided for organizing, arming, and disciplining these military troops and governed such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. Our government also provided and maintained a navy during this period of time.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice 2. Which United States Government body and/or official has the power to perform the above-described acts?

(A) The President, acting alone. (B) The President, acting with the advice and consent of Congress. (C) The Congress. (D) All of the above.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Questions 3 - 4 are based on the following fact situation.

Regarding the nature and requirements of the marriage contract in the State of California, the California Civil Code at section 4100 states the following:

"Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone will not constitute marriage; it must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this code, except as provided by Section 4213."

Jonathon and Joey are two males, 42 and 37 years of age respectively, who have resided in San Francisco, California for the last nine years. Both of these men have been living together in a loving relationship unencumbered by the vestiges of a marriage contract for quite some time now. Jonathon, the older of the two, has wanted to get married for a least the last ten years. Jonathon just recently convinced Joey that, since they have been together for approximately twelve years now, it might be time for them to "get married" to express the permanency of their relationship. Just two months ago Jonathon and Joey went to the San Francisco County Building and requested the necessary paperwork to get the ball rolling on their marriage license. The clerk immediately informed the men that she could not prepare the paperwork for them as California Civil Code section 4100 allows marriages to be consummated between a "man and a woman." Both men were furious. They immediately contacted an attorney who filed the necessary papers challenging this law on constitutional grounds.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice 3. As applied to Jonathon and Joey, the California statute is likely to be held

(A) Constitutional, because the statute promotes a compelling state interest. (B) Constitutional, because it protects the welfare and morals of the citizens of the state. (C) Constitutional, as a proper exercise of the state's police power. (D) Unconstitutional, as violative of the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice 4. Assume for the purposes of this question that Jonathon and Joey win their suit. Assume that the federal court states in its opinion that the right to freedom of choice in marriage relationships is a protected interest which is violated by California Civil Code section 4100. Which of the following is the strongest constitutional basis which may be cited in support of the federal court's decision?

(A) Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (B) Equal Protection Clause (C) Due Process Clause (D) Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice Question 5 is based on the following fact situation.

Congress passed legislation which established the United States Patent and Copyright Office. This office is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this office is to provide a uniform system of keeping track of, and establishing rights to, inventions and written material.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice 5. Where did Congress get the power to establish such an office?

(A) Congress' power to regulate commerce. (B) Congress' power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises. (C) Congress' power to promote science and useful arts. (D) Congress' power to enforce laws by appropriate legislation.


Constitutional Law Multiple Choice answer 1. (D) Congress has the power to regulate smoking on airplanes. Congress, in enacting this federal statute, is exercising its federal commerce power. Congress may enact a commerce-based criminal statute when, as here, the activity is related to interstate transactions. While smoking may be proper in an airport terminal and other places, Congress may enact legislation which makes it illegal to smoke in an airplane. Answer choice (C) is a correct statement but general statements such as this should not be preferred over an answer pick which states a correct rule of law or test which the court will apply. Answer choices (A) and (B) are incorrect because they concern an unconstitutional taking of life, liberty, or property. Under these facts, Congress' actions are proper and constitutional.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice answer 2. (C) Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution grants to Congress certain powers. All of the powers mentioned in this question are powers granted to Congress by the United States Constitution. Thus, answer (C) is correct. Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 12, Congress has the power "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years." Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 13, Congress has the power "To provide and maintain a Navy." Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 15, Congress has the power "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." Finally, under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16, Congress has the power "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States...." Since Congress alone has all of these powers and The President's main role during wartime is to act as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, answer (C) is correct and all other choices are incorrect.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice answer 3. (A) Here is a very representative example of the difficulty and breadth of a typical constitutional law multistate question. When you examine these questions and the explanations which follow each one you will begin to not only pick up clues as to how each multistate topic is tested but, more importantly, you will begin to "chip away" at each of the various rules, hornbook distinctions, code sections, and nuances which you are required to know. All of these subjects will be tested to one degree or another. Don't take any chances. Learn and retain as many of these legal rules and testing patterns as possible. A proper understanding of as many of these hornbook distinctions as you can manage is absolutely critical to your success in passing the MBE. The present question is not that extremely difficult. You just have to see what is being tested and then apply the correct legal rule. Here you have to first know that the right to marry is a fundamental right. Furthermore, the right to freedom of choice in a marriage relationship is a fundamental right. You know that when we are dealing with a fundamental right the court will apply "strict scrutiny." Therefore, if California's law restricts marriage to contracts "between a man and a woman" a fundamental right is involved and strict scrutiny will be applied. Answer choice (A) is correct. This law is constitutional assuming that the court holds that the statute promotes a compelling state interest. Although answer choice (B) may be argued as correct, you should always remember to choose an answer which states a correct rule of law over an answer which merely states correct facts. Answer choice (B) merely states facts which may be the basis for upholding the constitutionality of the statute. Answer choice (C) is incorrect. You should note that the state's "police power" is usually an incorrect response to a multistate question. If you see this answer choice always look for a better, or more specific, response and then choose it. Remember, "the 'police power' is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution but the term has been a frequently cited concept in Constitutional cases, particularly in the commerce area." Nowak, Rotunda & Young, Constitutional Law, at pp 263-264. Answer choice (D) is incorrect. The Privileges and Immunities Clause does not make this statute unconstitutional.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice answer 4. (B) The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that "No state shall....deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Equal Protection Clause applies to governmental actions affecting the receipt of benefits or burdens by individuals. Under the facts of this question we are confronted with a law which restricts the right of a class of persons to marry. Therefore, this law will be invalid under the Equal Protection Clause unless the state can show that it has a compelling state interest. The correct answer is (B). Answer choices (A), (C), and (D) are incorrect. The Due Process Clause choices of (A) and (C) are incorrect because the Due Process Clause does not apply under these facts. Due Process would only apply if the state's statute limited, for all persons, the freedom of choice in marriage.

Constitutional Law Multiple Choice answer 5. (C) Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 grants to Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for Limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Thus, answer (C) is correct. Answer choices (A), (B), and (D) are incorrect because, although these might be powers Congress can exercise, these are not the specific grants of power which give Congress the right to establish the United States Patent and Copyright Office. Note also that answer choice (D) states "Congress' power to enforce laws...." This does not say "enact laws." Thus, it is not a correct answer. This question calls for an answer which grants to Congress the power to "enact" the appropriate legislation which establishes the Patent and Copyright Office. This illustration points out the fact that the Multistate Bar Examination is as much a reading comprehension examination as it is a legal examination. You must always keep alert to key words when you read each fact pattern and answer choice.


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