John Marshall Chief Justice

The man responsible for decisions on important court cases

Marbury vs. Madison

Fletcher vs. Peck

Martin vs. Hunter's Lessee

In Martin v. Hunter's Lessee of 1816, the Supreme Court asserted its authority under Section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 to review state court decisions dealing with federal law. In doing this, the Court rejected the notion of dual judicial sovereignty, in which the state courts and the federal courts have separate and independent domains of power, and instead asserted the primacy of federal courts over federal law.

Cohens vs. Virginia


Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264 (1821), was a United States Supreme Court decision most noted for the Marshall Court's assertion of its power to review state supreme court decisions in criminal law matters. The Court had previously asserted a similar jurisdiction over civil cases in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. 304 (1816). An act of the United States Congress authorized the operation of a lottery in the District of Columbia. The Cohen brothers proceeded to sell D.C. lottery tickets in the Commonwealth of Virginia, violating state law. State authorities tried and convicted the Cohens and fined them $100. The state courts found that Virginia law prohibiting lotteries could be enforced, notwithstanding the act of Congress which authorized the D.C. lottery. The Cohens appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that their conduct was protected by the Act of Congress authorizing the D.C. lottery.


The actual case took place in 1819, The King of England in 1769 granted a charter to Dartmouth College, this spelled out the purpose of the school, set up the structure to govern it, and gave land to the college. In 1816 the state legislature of New Hampshire passed laws that revised the charter, it changed the school from a private to a public school, duties of the trustees, and how the trustees were selected.

This violated Article 1 section 10 of the constitution that prevented a state from impairing a contract.

It increased security of private businesses because the state couldn’t alter contracts so investments and growth in business was encouraged greatly.

The McCulloch vs. Maryland case was to decide whether congress could establish a national bank, the second national bank was established in 1817 in Philadelphia. The case took place in 1819.

The Court decided that Congress had implied powers to establish a national bank under the "necessary and proper" clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Court also determined that United States laws trump state laws and consequently, a state could not tax the national bank. The McCulloch decision established two important principles for constitutional law that continue today: implied powers and federal supremacy.