Sit In for the Most Exciting Cases!
Cases that the Supreme Court dealt with throughout history
Agenda for the cases in session
1:00-2:00: The year of 1804 (Marbury VS. Madison)
2:00-3:00: The year of 1810 (Fletcher VS. Peck)
4:00-5:00: The year of 1816 (Martin VS. Hunter’s Lessee)
5:00-6:00: The year of 1816 (McCulloch VS. Maryland)
6:00-7:00: The year of 1819 (Dartmouth College VS. Woodward)
7:00-8:00: The year of 1821 (Cohen's VS. Virginia)
Marbury v. Madison- 1803
Originated from President John Adams “Midnight Judges” motion. Following his failure to be re-elected, many of the Justices he had chosen to be appointed still had yet to receive their commission from the newly appointed Secretary of State, James Madison. One such justice, William Marbury, chose to petition the Supreme Court to force James Madison to deliver the commission due to him. The Supreme Court found that William Marbury should indeed have the right to his commission, and that James Madison should therefore deliver it. However, they denied Marbury’s petition on the grounds that the act giving him his petition; what gave all of Adams’ “Midnight Judges” their commission, was in fact unconstitutional, and as such Marbury’s commission to Justice of the Peace was denied.
Constitutional Principle: This court case established the principle of Judicial Review, setting the Supreme Court as the official interpreters of the US Constitution
Significance: Provided another Check and Balance to the US Government, namely in the Judicial Branch, which as of yet was the least powerful and least defined of the three government branches, helping to further stabilize the still growing American democracy.
Fletcher v. Peck- 1810
Georgia legislature granted 35 million acres of state land to companies for a price of 1.5 cents per acre. All the legislators that voted for the grant had been bribed. John Peck purchased the land that was part of the grant and he sold 13,000 acres of it to Robert Fletcher for $3,000. When Fletcher discovered the sale of the land had been voided by state law, he brought suit against Peck for damages, saying Peck lied to him in promising he had good title to the land. the conclusion was that Georgia had violated the Contract Clause of the Constitution when it repealed the grants.
Constitutional Principles: State laws were invalid when they came into conflict with federal laws. This further led to the federal government (Judicial Branch) to rule out laws that were against the Constitution.
Significance: First case where Supreme Court ruled a state law unconstitutional. This further allowed for the Judicial Branch to exercise it's right to rule a law or amendment unconstitutional.
McCulloch v. Maryland- 1816
The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had implied powers under the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to create the Second Bank of the United States and that the state of Maryland lacked the power to tax of said bank.When the Bank's Baltimore branch refused to pay the tax, the state of Maryland sued James McCulloch, cashier of the branch, for collection of the debt.
Constitutional Principle: Upheld right for Congress to charter a National Bank, allowing for one large bank to rule the national debt and allowing for the National bank to distribute money.
Significance: The case strengthened the implied power’s clause and strengthened the federal government, allowing the three branches to have increased power over the states when there was a dispute regarding the United States Constitution.
Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee- 1816
Lord Fairfax held land in Virginia and died in 1781. He then gave the land to his nephew Danny Martin who was a British subject. The Virginia Legislature then voided the land grant and gave it back to Virginia. Virginia then granted the land to David Hunter. The Supreme Court said that the lands belonged to Fairfax but the Virginia Court argued that it could be given to David Hunter.
Constitutional Principles: This case confirmed the Court's right to overrule a state court and that the Supreme Court was sovereign over the the state courts.
Significance: This case exercised that the Supreme Court decisions were sovereign over the state decisions in cases. The Virginia court didn't agree with the decisions that the
Supreme Court made but since the Supreme Court had power over the state court, it’s decisions were final.
Dartmouth College V Woodward- 1819
In 1769, the King of England granted a charter to Dartmouth College, giving them the structure, curriculum and giving land for the building of the college. in 1816, the state legislature in New Hampshire passed a law that revised the charter. This changed the school from a private school, to public, in turn going against what the King of England had in mind for the school. The legislature also ruled that there would be a change in trustees and how they would be chosen. The existing trustees filed charges and claimed that the legislature violated the Constitution. In the end, the Supreme Court agreed with the college, saying that the government could not interfere with a contract. Even though the contract was with the King of England, and the United States was no longer under the rule of England, the contract is still valid through the Constitution.
Constitutional Principle: By forbidding the state legislature to alter the college charter, it established the principle that charters were contracts which could not be impaired.
Significance: By the Supreme Court ruling in the colleges favor, it showed other businesses that the government could not interfere with a charter or a contract. This allowed for more businesses to pop up and more people became attracted to secure businesses.
Cohen's V. Virginia- 1821
Asserted the power of the Marbury v. Madison ruling for Judicial Review in state Supreme Court decisions in criminal law matters. The Cohen's were persecuted for selling lottery tickets from the District of Colombia in the state of Virginia, and violated state law. The Supreme Court upheld their convictions and then further made it so that the state and local courts had to submit to federal rulings. Also the Supreme Court had the final say in any court case and they were allowed to sit in on any trial.
Constitutional Principle: State courts must submit to federal rulings in cases this made it so that the federal government was allowed to rule over the state court when the rights in the Constitution were being suppressed.
Significance: The Supreme Court's right to review state court decisions in criminal law has more of a say when Constitutional rights have been violated.