• amanda0195

Court Cases



JOHN MARSHALL (R. 1801-1836)

JOHN MARSHALL BACKGROUND


  • Federalist appointed by John Adams 1801

  • Before leaving office, Adams (Federalist) issued a series of judicial appointments to extend Federalist influence in the judiciary ("midnight judges")

  • Served 34 years (6 presidents

  • Helped establish supremacy of the Supreme Court

  • And power of "judicial review" (deciding if law is constitutional)

  • Established "single decision" made by court (as opposed to each justice making opinion.

  • Marshall’s decisions:

  • ​Federal power above state power.

  • "Loose constructionist" interpretation of Constitution

  • Supreme Court/Constitution has authority over Congress (Marbury v. Madison)

  • Federal govt. has authority over states (McCulloch v. Maryland)

  • Contracts can't be violated (Fletcher v. Peck, Dartmouth v. Woodward)

COURT CASES

MARBURY v. MADISON (1803)

IMPORTANCE

  • Decided Supreme Court had power of judicial review

BACKGROUND

  • William Marbury last of midnight judges

  • On last day in office, Adams appointed Marbury to serve as Justice of Peace in DC

  • But Adams failed to submit commission before midnight

  • With change of administration

  • The new Sec. of State James Madison, refused to accept Marbury’s commission

  • Marbury petitioned Supreme Court for writ of mandamus

  • Which would force Madison to honor his commission

DECISION

  • Marshall (a Federalist) did NOT rule in favor of Marbury (a Federalist)

  • Because Constitution did not give such a power to the Supreme Court

  • The power to issue a writ of mandamus

  • Was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 (Section 13)

  • Marshall said section 13 was unconstitutional since it expanded Supreme Court power beyond originally intended in the Constitution.

  • Marshall’s ruling became monumental

  • Because 1st time Supreme Court declared a congressional act unconstitutional

  • Established Supreme Court’s authority in deciding constitutionality of laws and actions.

  • That is, the power of judicial review.

FLETCHER v. PECK (1810)

IMPORTANCE

  • Applied "contract clause" of Constitution (Article I, Section 10, Clause 1)

  • 'No State shall ... make any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts..."

  • 1st time Supreme Court struck down a state law on constitutional grounds

BACKGROUND

  • In 1795, Georgia legislature granted 35 million acres of state land (incl. land around Yazoo River in Alabama and Mississippi)

  • To private speculators - at bargain price of 1.5 cents per acre.

  • Soon discovered that almost all legislators who voted for the grant had been bribed.

  • 1796, a new state legislature repealed the fraudulent grant.

  • In 1800, John Peck bought some land that was part of the 1795 grant

  • In 1803, he sold 13,000 acres to Robert Fletcher for $3,000

  • When Fletcher discovered the sale of the land had been voided by state law

  • He sued Peck for damages

  • Claiming Peck had lied to him in promising he had good title to the land

  • Federal circuit court ruled in favor of Peck

  • Fletcher appealed to Supreme Court

  • Question: Was act of 1796 (repealing act of 1795) a violation of "contract clause"?

DECISION

  • YES, Georgia HAD violated contract clause when it repealed the original grant.

  • Peck was an innocent third party who had entered into two valid contracts.

  • First when he bought the land, Second when he sold the land to Fletcher.

  • Fletcher's case against Peck was dropped.

  • And Georgia's law repealing the original grant was struck down.

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE V. WOODWARD (1819)

IMPORTANCE

  • Like Fletcher v. Peck, defended "contract clause" of Constitution.

  • Severely limited the regulatory power of the state government.

  • Protected businesses that received charters from states.

BACKGROUND

  • New Hampshire's govt. tried to transform Dartmouth College into a public institution

  • Wanted to replace Dartmouth’s Federalists board of trustees with a state-created Republic governing board.

  • NH tried to change the college’s charter of 1769.

  • Daniel Webster represented Dartmouth College when case to Supreme Court

  • Argued Dartmouth’s founding charter, issued by King of England, was essentially a contract

  • And that Constitution prohibited state govts. from interfering with contracts ("contract clause")

DECISION

  • Marshall sided in favor of Dartmouth

  • Limiting power of the state government (Federalist ideal: federal govt. over states)

  • Marshall protecting corporations

  • That conducted business under charters granted by individual states

  • Marshall protecting property and contracts by limiting state interference

  • Created a climate of business confidence.

MCCULLOCH v. MARYLAND (1819)

IMPORTANCE

  • Upheld the constitutionality of Second Bank of U.S.

  • And established authority of federal government over the state.

BACKGROUND

  • President Madison had rechartered the Second Bank of US

  • Which established a local branch in Baltimore, Maryland

  • Competing with state and local banks.

  • Maryland taxed the federal bank so it wouldn't compete with Maryland banks.

  • Outraged the bank’s cashier, McCulloch, who refused to pay

  • First question

  • Whether Congress had ability to charter a national bank

  • Using loose interpretation of Constitution, Marshall decided that it did

  • Next question:

  • whether a state could tax an agency of the federal govt.

DECISION

  • Marshall overruled Maryland on ground that states did not have such authority

  • Maintained constitutional law was more fundamental than individual state law

  • Since it was created to govern all the states collectively

  • Upheld the constitutionality of the Second bank of the US.

  • Constitution gave Congress the power to make all “necessary and proper” laws to carry out its delegated powers.

  • Ruling angered Republicans

  • But left no doubt about court’s position that states subordinate to federal govt.

GIBBONS v. OGDEN (1824)

IMPORTANCE

  • Reinforced right of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce.

  • "Commerce Clause" of Constitution: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3

  • Congress has power "to regulate commerce ... among the several states..."

  • Also reinforced the "Supremacy Clause": Article VI, Clause 2

  • "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States...shall be the supreme Law of the Land..."

BACKGROUND

  • New York state had granted exclusive rights to Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton (inventor of the steamboat) to operate steamboats within New York state

  • Who sold some of those rights to other steamboat operators - like Aaron Ogden

  • Ogden, therefore, had exclusive rights

  • To transport passengers between New York to New Jersey

  • Until Gibbons (his former partner) began operating a competing steamboat.

  • Ogden sued Gibbons

  • But Gibbons's lawyer, Daniel Webster, argued that only Congress has right to regulate interstate commerce (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), not New York.

DECISION

  • Supreme Court sided with Gibbons.

CHEROKEE NATION v. GEORGIA (1831)

IMPORTANCE

  • Reinforced fact that Indians were a "domestic, dependent nation"

BACKGROUND

  • State of Georgia pressured Cherokee to sell the land they held in that state

  • Cherokee Nation felt they held a valid treaty to live on the land.

  • Said that Georgia's laws violated their sovereign rights as a nation.

  • Decided to take their case to the federal court system

  • 1831 decision

  • Marshall said Native Americans had no real standing in court since they were not a state or a foreign country (Article III)

  • He said they were a "domestic, dependent nation" that existed under the guardianship of the United States.

  • But he affirmed that the Cherokee had a right to the lands that they possessed.

WORCESTER v. GEORGIA (1832)

IMPORTANCE

  • Reinforced federal power over "foreign nations."

  • And the right of the government to overturn unconstitutional state laws.

BACKGROUND

  • Samuel Worcester, a minister from Vermont, became friendly with Cherokee leaders.

  • Fearful of Worcester's influence, Georgia enacted a law

  • prohibiting "white people" from living within the Cherokee nation without permission from the state.

  • The missionaries in the Cherokee Nation appealed to the Supreme Court.

DECISION

  • The Supreme Court struck down Georgia's law.

  • And said that the Indian Nation was a separate, sovereign nation, with a legitimate title to its national territory."

  • Marshall declared that the Cherokees had the right to live free from Georgia's laws and harassment (that is, Cherokee could not be moved out of their land)

CONSEQUENCE

  • Georgia and President Andrew Jackson ignored the ruling.

  • Jackson: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

  • Actual quote: "The decision of the supreme court has fell still born, and they find that it cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate."

  • Trail of Tears

  • Removal Act of 1830 was enforced

OTHER CASES

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

ROGER TANEY (R. 1836-1864)

ROGER TANEY BACKGROUND


  • Jacksonian Democrat (after leaving Federalist Party)

  • Slave owner who manumitted his slaves.

  • Believe in states' rights

  • Opposed attempts by govt. to restrict rights of individuals

  • Against Bank of U.S.

COURT CASES

CHARLES RIVER BRIDGE V. WARREN BRIDGE, 1837

IMPORTANCE

  • More flexible interpretation of Contract Clause

  • Showed shift away from nationalism towards states rights

  • Suggested that the public good took priority over rights of private property

BACKGROUND

  • 1785 Mass. had given Charles R. Bridge Co. a charter to build a toll bridge between Boston and Cambridge

  • 1828, a second bridge company was authorized to construct a competing bridge across the Charles River which would be free to the public in 6 years

  • Charles Bridge company said it had a monopoly on traffic across the Charles River and sued saying the Mass. legislature defaulted on its original contract (Art. 1, Section 10)

  • They also claimed that the the new state-issued charter violated its property rights (spec. the right to collect tolls) granted by the 1785 charter.

  • Case went to Supreme Court in 1831 (Marshall) but decision in 1837 (Taney)

DECISION (5-2)

  • Taney said the original charter hadn't specifically granted a monopoly so wasn't in violation of Art. 1, Section 10 (contract clause)

  • And the "general welfare" would be better served by opening a second bridge

  • Conflicted with the Dartmouth case that said that states could not violate contracts.

  • "any ambiguity in the terms of the contract must operate against [the private company], and in favor of the public."

  • Said states had the power to enact regulatory laws for the public benefit.

  • Taney feared that new transportation technology, like railroads, would challenge old transportation

DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD 1857

IMPORTANCE

  • Decided blacks ("negroes") - whether free or slave, couldn't be citizen

  • Slaves were private property

  • Can't deny rights to take property without due process (5th Amendment)

  • Invalidated all past acts prohibiting slavery

  • Northwest Ordinance 1787 (no slavery in northwest),

  • Missouri Compromise of 1820

  • Can't give governments power they didn't have (like outlawing slavery)

  • ​Which negated popular sovereignty.

BACKGROUND

  • An African-American slave, Dred Scott,

  • Claimed he and his wife (Harriet) should be granted their freedom

  • Because they had been taken by their master to live in free territories for four years.

  • Illinois and Wisconsin were "free" because of Northwest Ordinance

  • He sued in federal court.

DECISION (7-2)

  • Court decided against Scott.

  • ​Because anyone of African ancestry could not claim citizenship in U.S.

  • And therefore, could not sue in federal court.

  • Being granted freedom, moreover

  • ​Would deprive his master of his legal property.

CONSEQUENCE

  • Temporarily ended prohibition of slavery anywhere in the U.S.

  • Northern abolitionists outraged.

  • Republicans accused Taney and Pres. Buchanan

  • Of participating in Slave Power conspiracy.

  • Deepened sectional tensions between northern and southern U.S.

  • Stephen Douglas and Lincoln debates.

  • Election of Lincoln in 1860

  • Civil War

COURT CASES DURING GILDED AGE

MUNN V. ILLINOIS (1877)

IMPORTANCE

  • Allowed states to control commerce in the interest of public

BACKGROUND

  • Powerful farmers groups elected congressmen who passed a number of Granger Laws making it illegal for railroads to fix prices by means of pools or giving rebates to big customers.

  • Illinois regulated grain warehouses and elevator rates by establishing maximum rates to use them.

  • But did the state have the power to impose rates? Did this violate the elevator owners equal protection under the 14th Amendment?

DECISION (7-2)

  • Court decided that states had the right to regulate businesses that were in the public interest such as railroads.

  • The state may regulate the use of private property "when such regulation becomes necessary for the public good," that is, "when it affects the public interest"

CONSEQUENCE

  • States regulated railroads.

WABASH V. ILLINOIS (1886)

IMPORTANCE

  • Demonstrated that the Court and the government favored big business.

  • Decided that states couldn't control intrastate (within the state) commerce if it was part of an interstate journey.

  • Resulted in the creation of the ICC

BACKGROUND

  • State laws regulating railroad rates ran into legal problems when railroads crossed state line.

  • States could only regulate local or short-haul rates, interstate commerce was a federal matter.

  • Railroad companies adapted to Granger laws by raising long-haul (interstate) rates.

  • Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company (Wabash) charged different rates to two different companies for transporting goods over the same road from Illinois to New York.

  • Wabash was found guilty of violating an Illinois law prohibiting unjust discrimination in rates charged by railroad companies.

  • Question: Did the state have the power to regulate the intrastate portion of an interstate railroad journey?

DECISION

  • Supreme Court decided that states didn't have the right to control interstate commerce.

CONSEQUENCE

  • Congress responded to outcry of farmers and shippers by passing the Interstate Commerce Act 1886 requiring railroad rates to be "reasonable and just"

  • and set up the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to investigate and prosecute pools, rebates and other discriminatory practices.

  • But the ICC lost most of its cases in the federal courts in the 1890s.

  • But helped railroads by stabilizing rates and curtailing competition.

UNITED STATES V. E.C. KNIGHT (1895)

IMPORTANCE

  • Demonstrated that government and the Court favored big business.

  • Limited power of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act because of ruling that it only applied to interstate commerce, not manufacturers in one state.

BACKGROUND

  • Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890 in response to public concern about the growth of giant combinations controlling transportation, industry and commerce.

  • The Sherman Anti-Trust Act aimed to stop the concentration of wealth and economic power in the hands of a few.

  • The law outlawed "every contract, combination...or conspiracy, in restraint of trade" or interstate commerce, and declared every attempt to monopolize any part of trade or commerce was illegal."

  • E.C. Knight Company controlled over 98% of the sugar-refining business in the U.S.

  • Question: Did Congress exceed its constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause by enacting the Sherman Anti-Trust Act?

DECISION (8-1)

  • The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was constitutional but didn't apply to manufacturing since it is not commerce.

  • Although American Sugar had monopolized manufacturing, the Court found no violation of the Sherman Act because the purchase of Philadelphia refineries involved intrastate commerce (commerce in the state only)

  • the trust didn't lead to control of interstate commerce.

CONSEQUENCE

  • Because of the ruling there were few convictions of companies engaged in monopolies or trusts until the Progressive Era.

COURT CASES DURING PROGRESSIVE ERA

LOCHNER V. NEW YORK (1905)

IMPORTANCE

  • State were not allowed to legally limit working hours or work weeks.

BACKGROUND

  • The State of New York enacted a law forbidding bakers to work more than 60 hours a week or 10 hours a day.

  • Did NY violate the rights of the bakers and employers?

  • Did it violate due process in the 14th Amendment?

DECISION (5-4)

  • Court said yes, New York did violate the freedom of contract and thus, the 14th Amendment's right of due process to employers and employees.

  • The state had not right to interfere with liberty by determining the hours of labor

CONSEQUENCE

  • Employers could require workers to work long hours.

  • Workers had no legal basis to challenge the number of hours required by their employers.

MULLER V. OREGON (1908)

IMPORTANCE

  • First limitation on working hours (see Lochner case above)

  • Determined that men and women were biologically different and, therefore, would have different rights.

BACKGROUND

  • Oregon had enacted a law that limited women workers to ten hours a day in factories and laundries.

  • Did the law violate women's freedom to work more than 10 hours?

  • Did it violate the 14th Amendment?

DECISION (9-0)

  • The court decided that the Oregon law did not violate the constitution

  • Because, according to a report developed by experts under Louis Brandeis, long hours were physically, socially and economically harmful to women.

  • The heath of women needed special protection from long hours.

  • Physical and social differences between the sexes warranted different labor rules.

CONSEQUENCE

  • Women won fewer hours of work.

  • But the decision set women back by determining that they were weaker than men.

  • The law, and the deaths of 146 women at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, sparked greater women's activism and motivated states to pass laws to improve working conditions in factories.

COURT CASES UNDER OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

BUCK V. BELL (1927)

IMPORTANCE

  • Legalized eugenics

BACKGROUND

  • Indiana in 1907 passed a law authorizing doctors to sterilize insane and "eeb-minded" inmates in mental institutions so that they would not pass their "defective" genes on to children

  • Other states followed suit

DECISION

  • Court upheld the constitutionality of eugenics laws

  • Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes's opinion included the famous statement, "three generations of imbeciles are enough"

CONSEQUENCE

  • Practiced of forced sterilization ended in 1960s (by then 63,000 had been sterilized.


0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All