Supreme Court Cases Study Guide

Legal cases

Marbury v. Madison:(1803) Judicial review In 1801, Justice William Marbury was to have received a commission from President Adams, but Secretary of State James Madison refused to issue the commission. Chief Justice Marshall stated that the Judiciary Act of 1789, which was the basis for Marbury's claim, conflicted with Article III of the Constitution. Marbury did not receive the commission. This case determined that the Supreme Court and not the states would have the ultimate word on whether an issue was in violation of the Constitution. The ruling, based on judicial review, made the Judicial Branch equal to the other two branches of government. Fletcher v. Peck: (1810) Contracts and State law Following amassivebriberyscandalthatinvolvedalmosttheentireGeorgialegislaturein 1794, the legislature authorized the sale of thirty-five million acres to four companies for less than 2 cents an acre. In the 1796 elections nearly all the legislators were dismissed and replaced. The new legislators rescinded the land grant. However, purchasers of the grant had already started selling off the land. The Supreme Court judged that when the state of Georgia rescinded a land grant it was unconstitutional since it revoked the rights already granted in the contract. This was the first case to declare a state law in violation of the Constitution. . Dartmouth College v. Woodward: (1819) Contracts and State law The New Hampshire legislature amended the original charter of the college, which had been in place since 1769, to make the college more accessible to the public. The problem was that the legislature acted without consultation with the college trustee. The Supreme Court ruled that the original charter was inviolable as the charter was a contract. This decision led to a strengthening of property rights against state abridgement. McCulloch v. Maryland: (1819) Implied powers James Madison created a national bank, The state of Maryland believed this was an intrusion into states' rights and attempted to tax the bank. James McCullough, who worked at the bank, refused to pay the state taxes because he believed the state had no right to tax a national bank. Marshall stated. That the bank was incompliance with the constitution and could not be subjected to state taxes. This case established the rule that states could not tax an institution of the federal government. Gibbons v. Ogden: (1824) Interstate commerce Act issue was the right to carry passengers along a canal from New York to New Jersey. The state of New York had granted Aaron Ogden the exclusive right. The federal government issued a license to Thomas Gibbons for the same route. On appeal the case went to the Supreme Court after Ogden sued Gibbons and won. The Supreme Court decided that Gibbons was right and that states cannot stop Congress regulating' interstate commerce. This was a landmark case because it established federal authority over the states. This became the basis of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia: (1831) State law and Indians The Cherokee Indians had been farming the land in the western part of the state and had established their own government. The Georgians passed laws and tried to have the Cherokee government declared null and void. The Cherokee nation brought the suit to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Cherokee nation was a foreign entity and therefore the state of Georgia had no rights. Marshall knew that if he ruled in favor of the Indians, President Jackson would not enforce the ruling. So Marshall ruled that the Cherokee nation did not constitute a foreign nation. Thus the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee nation.

Worcester v. Georgia: (1832) State law and Indians in Worcester v. Georgia John Marshall invalidated a Georgia law concerning entry into the Cherokee nation. In this case Worcester, a missionary, sued on the grounds that the state had no right to control any aspect of the...
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