The Legacy of John Marshall

Victoria Grimes, Dena Puglisi

Marbury vs. Madison

  • In 1803

  • This case occurred because President John Adams’ secretary of state failed to deliver documents allowing William Marbury as Justice of the Peace. James Madison, Jeffersons’ secretary of state was told not to deliver the documents. Because of this, Marbury sued Madison and he asked the Supreme Court to make Madison deliver the documents.

  • The Constitutional Principle established was Judicial Review

  • This case is important because it allowed the Supreme Court to declare laws unconstitutional.


Fletcher vs. Peck

  • In 1810

  • Robert Fletcher sued John Peck because when Peck sold Fletcher 15,000 acres of land for $3,000, he placed a covenant in the deed stating the title of the land had not been constitutionally impaired by any act of the state of Georgia. However, this was untrue because of the 1796 act which nullified the transaction of 30 million acres of land. In the end, the 1796 law was considered unconstitutional and the sale of the land for Fletcher was legal.

  • Constitutional Principle- While the states may not repeal contracts, they may pass legislation that affects contracts.

  • This case is important because it’s the first case where the Supreme Court ruled a state law as unconstitutional.


Martin vs. Hunter’s Lessee

  • In 1816

  • In 1781 Lord Fairfax died and gave Thomas Martin his property. However, Virginia claimed that the property was theirs in 1777 and proceeded to give it to David Hunter in 1789. The District Court granted judgment in favor of Martin. Then the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed in favor of Hunter, but finally the Supreme Court used the treaties of 1781 and 1794 reversed in favor of Martin.

  • The U.S. S. Ct. has absolute appellate power under the Constitution.

  • This case is important because it was the first case to assert ultimate Supreme Court authority over state courts in civil matters of federal law.


Cohens vs. Virginia

  • 1821
  • Cohens vs. Virginia was about state vs federal law. Cohens was selling DC lottery tickets in Virginia and it was against state law. It was legal for federal law though. The federal law won because John Marshall said that federal law wins over state and they were allowed to sell the tickets.
  • The constitutional principle is federal versus state law.
  • This case is important because it was the first supreme court case that involved federal vs state rule.


Dartmouth College vs. Woodward

  • 1819

  • The Dartmouth College v. Woodward case was about public and private schools in the United States. Dartmouth College was a private school before the American Revolution. After the Revolution America attempted to alter Dartmouth's charter and make a new president of the school. Pretty much after the American Revolution Americans made the school a state public school. This was deemed unconstitutional at the end of the case because of the Contact Clause. Dartmouth College got its charter back and also was allowed to go back to how it was originally and be a private college.

  • Contact Clause

  • This case was important because without it America wouldn’t have private schools. Or states would be able to control them and change things.


McCulloch vs. Maryland

  • 1791

  • This case is about putting states taxes on national banks that were outside of the state. At the time national banks were controversial because people were worried that the federal government was becoming too powerful. Maryland tried to close the Baltimore branch of the national bank. They tried doing this by passing a law that made all banks that were created outside of the state to pay a yearly tax. A man named James McCulloch who was an employee at the bank wouldn’t pay the yearly tax. McCulloch was sued by the state of Maryland for refusing to pay the yearly tax. McCulloch ended up winning the case because he proved that The United States Constitution has implied powers that make it okay for the United States to have national banks. This proved that the yearly taxing o of its branches and the national was unconstitutional because of the implied powers.

  • The Doctrine of Implied Power.

  • This case was important because without it National banks would probably still be being taxed yearly to this day. It helped to establish The Doctrine of Implied Power and interpreting the Constitution.