The Legacy of John Marshall

Important Court Cases

Fletcher vs Peck (1810)

Robert Fletcher purchased 15,000 acres from John Peck in 1803 for $3,000. Peck had placed a covenant in the deed that stated that the title to the land had not been constitutionally impaired by any subsequent act of the state of Georgia. This main issue with this case was a law that negates all property rights established under an earlier law unconstitutional? John Marshall ruled yes and Peck won the case. This case established the principle that state laws were invalid when in conflict with the Constitution

McCulloch vs Maryland (1819)

The state of Maryland tried to impose taxes on national banks. A man by the name of McCulloch, who was a banker in Baltimore, didn’t pay these taxes. The main question of this case was do states have the right to put taxes on federal property. The court ruled in McCullochs favor. This case upheld the right of Congress to charter a national bank, therefore putting into national law the doctrine of implied powers.

Darthmouth College vs Woodward (1819)

The decision settled the nature of public versus private charters and resulted in the rise of the American business corporation and the free enterprise system.

By forbidding the state legislature to alter the college charter, established the principal that charters were contracts which could not be impaired.

Marbury vs Madison (1803)

The job of Chief Justice John Marshall was to deliver the commissions to each of the judges. He finished the commissions but figured his successor, James Madison, would deliver them. However, Thomas Jefferson told Madison not to deliver them because he did not want members of the opposing political party to take office. This case established Judicial review.

Martin vs Hunter Lesse (1816)

During the revolutionary war, Denny Martin was granted land confiscated by a British loyalist. The main issue was if the U.S. Supreme Court have appellate jurisdiction over state court decisions involving federal law. The judge, John Marshall believed this to be a yes. So the Supreme Court of the United States reversed in favor of Martin. This court case confirmed the federal Court's right to overrule a state court.

Cohens vs Virginia (1821)

An act passed by congress made lottery tickets in D.C. legal. However, the Cohen brothers decided to start selling them in Virginia. The issue or question was did the Supreme Court have the power under the Constitution to review the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling? The ruling was yes and the Cohen brothers violated Virginia law. This case brought about the fact that states were no longer sovereign in all respects since they had ratified the Constitution. State courts must submit to federal jurisdiction