File - lewisminusclark

Marbury v. Madison (1803): Marbury v. Madison was one of the landmark
cases in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. President John Adams
appointed William Marbury as a justice of the peace for the District of
Columbia on March 2, 1801. Thomas Jefferson, who became president two
days later, ordered Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver the
appointment papers. Marbury sued for a writ of mandamus to get the papers
delivered. Chief Justice John Marshall, who wrote the decision decided
against Marbury. However, the important part of Marshall's decision was his
statement that the Judiciary Act of 1789 empowering the court to issue a writ
of mandamus was contrary to the Constitution and therefore null and void.
This was the first time the Supreme Court assumed the power to declare a
law unconstitutional. Judicial review was born.
Fletcher v. Peck (1810): The Georgia legislature had given large land grants
along the Yazoo River to private land speculators in 1795. Because of fraud
surrounding the grants, the next Georgia legislature rescinded them. The
original grantees sued for the land and the case was brought to the Supreme
Court. In the decision. Chief Justice John Marshall held that the original grants
were valid contracts which could not be rescinded since all contracts were
guaranteed under the Constitution (Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1). The
second Georgia law rescinding the land grants was therefore unconstitutional.
This was the first instance in which the Supreme Court assumed the right to
declare a state law- unconstitutional.
McCulloch v. Maryland (T819): In this landmark case McCulloch, cashier of
the Baltimore branch of the Bank of the United States, refused to pay a
$15,000 tax levied on the bank by the state of Maryland. The question at issue
was the right of a state to tax an agency established by the national
government. In his decision, Chief Justice John Marshall stated that Congress
had the power to charter the bank, which was constitutional under the implied
powers of Congress. In addition he held that states could not tax a federal
agency because this would make it possible for states to hinder the legitimate
functions of the national government and could even force the agency out of
"The power to tax," wrote Marshall, "involves the power to destroy." The
Maryland tax was therefore constitutional.
Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819): In this case Supreme Court Chief
Justice John Marshall held that the state of New Hampshire acted illegally
when it changed the provisions of the Dartmouth College charter to make the
school a state institution without the consent of the college. A charter was held
to be a contract guaranteed under the Constitution.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824): The state of New York had given Robert R.
Livingston and Robert Fulton a monopoly to run steamboats on the Hudson
River. Chief Justice John Marshall held that the Hudson River, since it
touched two states, affected interstate commerce, which, broadly interpreted,
included every kind of intercourse between states. Under the U. S.
Constitution, only Congress, not the states, had the power to regulate
interstate commerce.
Worcester v. Georgia (1832): John Marshall ruled that the Indian nation was
a distinct political community in which "the laws of Georgia can have no force"
and into which Georgians could not enter without permission or treaty
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1832): Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that
under the U.S. Constitution an Indian tribe was neither a foreign nation nor a
state and therefore had no standing in federal courts. However, the Indians
still had an unquestioned right to their land and could lose title only by
voluntarily giving it up.
Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837): In 1785 the Massachusetts
legislature chartered the Charles River Bridge Company. In 1791 the
company's charter was extended for 70 years. In return for assuming the risk
of building the bridge between Boston and Charlestown, the owners were
permitted to collect tolls. In 1828 the legislature chartered another company to
build a second bridge, the Warren Bridge, across the Charles River. This
company was given the right to collect tolls for six years, after which the
bridge would be turned over to the state and be toll free. The Charles River
Bridge Company sued the Warren Bridge Company using the precedent set in
Dartmouth College v. Woodward that a charter was an inviolable contract.
Roger B. Taney, Marshall's successor as chief justice, speaking for the Court
majority, noted that "the original charter did not confer the privilege of
monopoly and therefore exclusivity could not be implied." The court supported
economic expansion and individual economic opportunity by saying that
charter grants should be interpreted narrowly and that ambiguities would be
decided in favor of the public interest. (Norton, A People and A Nation, p. 253)
Dred Scott v. Sanford (I857): Dred Scott, a slave, was taken by his master
from Missouri, a slave state, to Illinois, a free state, and then back to Missouri.
Scott claimed his stay in Illinois made him a free man. Chief Justice Roger B.
Taney, in this decision, stated that blacks were property, that they did not
become free when taken into a free state, and that the Missouri Compromise,
which had prohibited slavery in part of the Louisiana Territory, was therefore
unconstitutional. By this decision, slavery became legal in all U.S. territories.
Munn v. Illinois (1877): In this Granger case, the Supreme Court upheld an
Illinois s statute fixing maximum prices grain elevators could charge farmers
for the short terms storage of grain before it was shipped to processors. The
commerce clause of the Constitution was not violated since the operation of
grain elevators was primarily an intrastate commerce enterprise.
Civil Rights Cases (1883): In these cases the justices ruled that w/while
states could not deny blacks their civil rights, the court was powerless to stop
individuals from discriminating against them. These cases invalidated the Civil
Rights Act of 5875. Wabash RR v. Illinois (1886): In this Granger case the
Supreme Court decided that an Illinois law prohibiting rate discrimination by
railroads for long and short hauls was unconstitutional because it infringed on
the exclusive right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
In Re Debs (1895): In this case the Supreme Court denied a writ of habeas
corpus to Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, after he
was cited for contempt for violating an injunction against the Pullman Strike.
The court said that the strike interfered with the federal responsibility to
transport the mails and its authority over interstate commerce.
U.S. v. E.G. Knight Co. (1895): Acting under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
(1890), the U.S. prosecuted the American Sugar Refining Company as a
monopoly. The Supreme Court held that sugar refining, of itself, was
manufacturing, not interstate commerce, and therefore not subject to
interstate regulation.
Pollock v. Farmers^ Loan and Trust Co. (1895): The first income tax in U.S.
history was passed by Congress during the Civil War and repealed after the
war. In 1894 the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act was passed. One of its provisions
levied a 2% tax on incomes over $4(.00 per year. The income tax section of
the Wilson-Gorman Tariff was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. because it violated the
constitutional provision that direct taxes be based solely on the size of the
population. In 1913 Amendment 16, the income tax amendment, was ratified.
It gave Congress the right to tax income without regard to the size of the
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); Throughout the period following Reconstruction,
segregation by custom became prevalent throughout the South. One by one
southern states began to enact Saws that provided for racial segregation of
blacks and whites in schools, railroads, parks and other public places. States
also began to pass Saws to disenfranchise blacks. In Plessy v. Ferguson the
Supreme Court declared that such segregation was legal provided that
"equal" facilities were provided.
Holden v. Hardy (1896): The Supreme Court upheld a law regulating the
working hours of miners because their work was so dangerous that overly
long hours would increase the threat of injury.
Cummins v. County Board of Education (1899): In deciding this case, the
U.S. Supreme Court officially applied the "separate but equal doctrine" to
public schools. As a result, of this decision and Plessy v. Ferguson,
segregation laws known as Jim Crow laws, piled up throughout the South.
Northern Securities Case (1904): Together with James J. Hill, J.P. Morgan
formed the Northern Securities Corporation during a financial battle with
Edward H. Harriman for control of the railroads in the Pacific Northwest. The
Supreme Court ordered this holding company dissolved in 1904.
Lochner v. New York (1905): A New York State law fixing maximum working
hours for bakers was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court held the law exceeded the police powers of the state and interfered
with the individual's right to freedom of contract under Amendment 14.
Mulier v. Oregon (1908): In this case the court set aside the Lochner
argument and upheld an Oregon law limiting working hours for women to ten
a day. The court asserted that labor legislation was necessary because a
woman's health "becomes an object of public interest and care in order to
preserve the strength and vigor of the race."
Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918): The Supreme Court declared the KeatingOwen Child Labor Law unconstitutional. Keating-Owen had prohibited the
shipment in interstate commerce of products made with child labor.
Abrahms v. U.S. (1919); This U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld the
constitutionality of the Sedition Act (1918) which made it a crime to speak
disloyally of the U.S. government or interfere with the war effort. Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes, Jr. dissented in the decision, holding that the Sedition Act
was a violation of freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment
to the Constitution.
Schenck v. U.S. (1919): Under the Espionage Act of 1917 persons who
interfered with the war effort by making speeches or writing articles
encouraging violating of draft laws were subject to imprisonment. Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. sustained the constitutionality of the Espionage
Act on the grounds that freedom of speech and press may be limited when
there is a "clear and present danger" to the nation.
Adkins v. Children's Hospital (1923): In 1918 Congress passed a law
establishing a minimum wage. scale, for women working in Washington, D.C.
The Supreme Court held the law unconstitutional because it violated
Amendment 5 of the Constitution which prohibited the federal government
from passing any law that deprived a person of "life, liberty, or property
without due process of law.
Schecter v. U.S. (1935); Also known as the Schecter Poultry case and the
"Sick Chicken Case." The Schecter Poultry Company violated the code for the
industry established under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. The
U.S. Supreme Court declared the NIRA unconstitutional because it gave
excessive legislative powers, such as the writing of industrial codes of fair
competition, to the executive branch, of government. In addition, these codes
regulated intrastate as well as interstate industries.
Korematsu v. U.S. (S944): The Court, with three justices dissenting,
approved the removal of the Japanese from the West Coast. In 1982 the
government's special commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of
Civilians had recommended compensating the victims of this policy. Because
of "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership," the
commission concluded, the government had committed "a grave injustice" to
more than 110.000 people. In 1983, Fred Korematsu heard a federal judge
rule that he and all detainees had been the victim of "unsubstantiated facts,
distortions and misrepresentations of at least one military commander whose
views were affected by racism."
Dennis et al. V. U.S. (1951): The Smith Act passed in 1940 made it a crime
to teach or advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or
violence. It also required the fingerprinting and registration of all aliens. In
1947 eleven American Communist Party members were successfully
prosecuted and jailed under this act. In Dennis et al,, V. U.S. the Supreme
Court upheld the constitutionality of the Smith Act.
Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952): This case arose when
a nationwide strike of steelworkers threatened to shut down the industry at the
height of the Korean War. (Steel production was needed for the war effort. To
avert the strike President Truman ordered the secretary of commerce to seize
the steel mills and keep them running the Supreme Court held that the
president must. relinquish control of the mills because he had exceeded his
constitutional authority. The Court ruled that the president's position as
commander in chief did not justify his action. Only Congress could
"nationalize" an industry. If Congress did this then the president, in executing
the law, would be authorized to seize and operate the mills.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966): In this decision the Supreme Court protected the
rights of the accused. The court said that police are required by the Fifth
Amendment to read suspects their rights before questioning. A confession
would be presumed to be involuntary unless the person in custody had been
informed of the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present during
questioning, and to have an attorney provided free of charge if the person
could not afford one. In time this ruling was extended to mean that a person
has a right to a lawyer when he is involved in a police lineup and when he is
questioned by a psychiatrist to determine whether he is competent lo stand
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954): In this decision
the court reversed the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson and held that "separate
but equal" facilities constituted illegal segregation and were a violation of the
"equal protection of the laws"for all citizens guaranteed under the Fourteenth
New York Times v. United States (1971): In June of 1971 the New York
Times began to publish the Pentagon Papers, a top secret study of United
States decisions in the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense
Department official working for the RAND Corporation had leaked the heavily
documented report to the New York Times. This report revealed that
American leaders had frequently lied to the American people about the
conduct of the war in Vietnam. President Richard Nixon secured an injunction
to prevent publication, but the Supreme Court overturned the order. The
Supreme Court upheld the right of freedom of the press and said that the
government could not stop the printing of the Pentagon Papers. There was,
however, considerable disagreement on the Court with four dissenting justices
voting to halt publication temporarily to allow the president to show that the
documents jeopardized the war effort.
Roe v. Wade (1973): The Supreme Court struck down state laws that made
abortion a crime. Ruling that such laws violated a woman's right of privacy, it
held that the Constitution protected a woman's decision about whether to end
her pregnancy. Only in the last three months of pregnancy could a state
absolutely bar abortion; otherwise, the state's power to regulate abortion was
either nonexistent or subordinate to the issue of maternal health.
United States v. Nixon (1974): The Special Prosecutor in the Watergate
hearings filed a motion to subpoena President Nixon's tapes and documents
relating to conversations and meetings between the President and others. The
President refused to comply, claiming "executive privilege." The Supreme
Court ruled that unless important military or diplomatic secrets affecting
national security were involved, the need to insure a fair trial outweighs the
doctrine of executive privilege.
Bakke v. University of California (1978): In this 5-4 ruling the Supreme
Court outlawed quotas and ordered that Alan Bakke be admitted to medical school. But
the court also upheld the principle of affirmative action, explaining that race or
ethnicity could be counted as a plus in an applicant's file as long as it did "not insulate
the individual from comparison with other candidates.
Website for Supreme Court Cases: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American
1798 Alien & Sedition Act authorized the expulsion of foreigners considered a threat to the
U.S. the act also extended residence requirements for naturalization from 5 to 14 years
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act suspended immigration of all Chinese laborers for a period of 10
years and forbade the naturalization of Chinese; in 1902 a new law excluded Chinese
indefinitely; not until 1943 was the ban was lifted
1882 Federal Immigration Law suspended immigration of all Chinese laborers for a period of
10 years forbade the immigration of criminals, paupers, and the insane; required an immigrant
to prove to officials that he/she would not become a "public charge;" those who could not
support themselves (ie. Children or the aged) had to produce a statement by a friend or relative
promising support.
1885 Contract Labor Law prohibited the importation of workmen under contract from overseas
- usually for substandard wages
***In later years, other federal laws lengthened the list of undesirables by adding such
categories as the insane, polygamists, prostitutes, alcoholics, anarchists, and persons afflicted
with contagious diseases. The first really broad effort to reduce immigration came in 1897
when Congress proposed a literacy test bill for adult immigrants. The bill would have required
immigrants over 16 years of age to read "not less than 30 nor more than 80 words in ordinary
use." President Cleveland vetoed it. Presidents Taft and Wilson vetoed similar bills in 1913,
1915, and 1917.
1908 Gentleman's Agreement agreement made by President Teddy Roosevelt and Japan, which
agreed to deny passports to laborers wishing to come to the U.S. In return, Californians were
expected to repeal an offensive school ordinance which in effect had tried to place Japanese
students in segregated schools
1917 Immigration Act of 1917 required a literacy test for new immigrants entering the U.S.
and barred immigration from most of the Asian-Pacific area. This law was passed over Wilson's
1921 Emergency Quota Act limited the number of immigrants entering the U.S. in any one
year to 3 percent of the size of each nationality group which was living in the U.S. in 1910. The
maximum annual quota was set at 357,802. Of this total, approximately 56 percent was allotted
to immigrants from northern and western Europe. Eastern and southern European immigrants
received a quota of about 44%. This system drastically limited the immigration from southern
and eastern Europe which had been running four times greater than that from the rest of
1924 Immigration Act of 1924 l) created a permanent quota system; 2) chopped the 1921
annual quota from 358,000 to 164,000; 3) reduced the immigration limit from 3% to 2% of each
foreign born nationality living in the U.S. in 1890 (rather than 1910); 4) provided for a future
reduction of the quota to 154,000. This law cut the quota for northern and western European
countries by 29%, but slashed the quota for southern and eastern Europe by 87%. Italy's quota,
for example, was reduced from 42,057 persons per year to 3,845 persons per year. It also
prohibited Japanese immigration to the U.S. thereby ending the Gentleman's Agreement.
1929 National Origins Act This act used 1920 as the quota base. It virtually cut immigration in
half by limiting the total to 152, 574 persons per year. Relatively high quotas for such nations
as England, Ireland, and Germany were usually half-filled, while thousands from nations like
Italy and Poland waited for years in the tiny quota set for southern and eastern Europe
1948 Displaced Persons Act made it possible for some 400,000 World War II refugees to come
to America.
1952 Immigration & Nationality law which did little more than restate the old national quota
Act of 1952(McCarran-Walter system. The act codified and slightly amended existing
Act) laws. It permitted the naturalization of Asians, previously permitted the naturalization of
Asians, previously ineligible. Perhaps reflecting the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s the
act also gave the Attorney General authority to expel aliens considered "subversive" regardless
of citizenship. This act became law over Truman's veto
1953 Refugee Relief Act act which came to the rescue of some 214,000 people who had fled
from the Communist countries of eastern Europe. Under this law 21,500 Hungarians fleeing
their homeland after the failure of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution were admitted to the U.S.
1961 Cuban Refugee Program established by Pres. Kennedy, it paved the way for thousands of
Cuban refugees from Communist Cuba to find asylum in the U.S.
1965 Immigration & Nationality 1) ordered elimination of the national origins quota system in
favor of Act of 1965 a world-wide quota blind to national origin. Immigration was redistributed
by pooling unused quotas and making them available to oversubscribed nations on a first come,
first served basis; 2) a ceiling of 170,000 persons from outside the western hemisphere, and
120,000 for nations in the western hemisphere (these figures did not include dependents and
close relatives); 3) no more than 20,000 visas per year to any one nation; 4) established an
admissions system with 4 ranks of preference: a) persons whose special skills should be
"especially advantageous to the U.S.;" b) unmarried children over 21 years of age of American
citizens; c) spouses and unmarried children of aliens living permanently in the U.S.; d) other
relatives of persons living in the U.S. and workers with "lesser skills" who could fill special
labor needs.
*** An immigrant without relatives in the U.S. still had to prove that he would take a job that
in no way conflicted with American workers.By the early 1970s the last traces of the national
origins quota system had vanished. For the first time in U.S. history, a person from an Asian or
African nation received the same consideration as a person from France or Germany.
1980 Refugee Act of 1980 As countless refugees fled from their native countries - such as Cuba,
Haiti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Vietnam - Congress enacted this act. It 1)
defined refugees as people outside their native countries who are unwilling to return because of
fear of persecution (this definition did not limit refugees to Communist-led nations only); 2)
increased the number of refugees to be admitted annually to 50,000 - in addition to special
programs for Indochinese and Cuban refugees; 3) empowered the President to admit additional
refugees in emergency situations; 4) established the position of U.S. Coordinator of refugee
Affairs to administer the law.
1986 Immigration Reform
a) barred employers from hiring illegal immigrants;
b) made it illegal for an employer to discriminate against legal immigrants;
c) offered legal status, or amnesty, to immigrants who could prove that they had entered the
U.S. illegally before January 1, 1982, and had resided here continuously since that time. For 5
years, such people (with certain exceptions based on age, disability, and pregnancy) would not
be eligible for welfare, food stamps, and many other government benefits;
d) offered amnesty to illegal immigrants who had worked in the U.S. for at least 90 days
between May 1985 and May 1986;
e)opened the way for people who benefited from the amnesties to become U.S. citizens; f)
provided for the admission of up to 350,000 immigrants for seasonal farm work in the fiscal
years 1990 to
1993, if a shortage of seasonal workers existed. Such immigrants could qualify for permanent
residence status after 3 years; g) set aside $1 billion/year for four years to help state
governments provide public assistance, health care, and education to people who benefited from
the amnesties.
1990 Immigration Act of 1990
a) raised the overall maximum of legal immigrants from 500,000 to
700,000/year, dropping to 675,000 in 1995;
b)The number of visas offered to immigrants with special skills (for example scientists,
ministers, engineers, nurses, physical therapists, and athletes) was more than doubled to
c)The number of visas for low skilled workers was reduced from about 18,000 to
d) Each year 10,000 visas will be made available to immigrants who have large sums of
money to invest in new businesses that provide jobs for ten or more Americans;
e) Each year 40,000 "diversity visas" will be set aside for people from 35 countries (mainly in
Europe) seen as adversely affected by the 1965 law. Of these visas, 40 percent are specifically
for Irish immigrants;
f) Each year 55,000 family members of those who gained legal status under the 1986 amnesty
may be admitted;
g) The bill eased restrictions dating to the 1950s that barred entry to people such as
Communists, homosexuals, and people with serious diseases;
h) People from war-torn El Salvador who were in the U.S. before the law passed could
receive work permits and temporary "safe haven" status for 18 months;
I) The bill allowed Filipino military veterans of WW II to become U.S. citizens (The
Philippines, an American commonwealth at the time of the war, became independent in 1947.);
j) Beginning in 1995, the law provided for a total of 675,000 visas apportioned as follows:
480,000 to relatives of citizens and permanent resident aliens, 140,000 to workers with special
skills, and 55,000 to people from nations that have sent relatively few immigrants to the U.S. in
recent years Communists, homosexuals, and people with serious diseases;
h) People from war-torn El Salvador who were in the U.S. before the
law passed could receive work permits and temporary "safe haven"
status for 18 months;
I) The bill allowed Filipino military veterans of
WW II to become U.S. citizens (The Philippines, an American
commonwealth at the time of the war, became independent in 1947.);
j) Beginning in 1995, the law provided for a total of 675,000 visas
apportioned as follows: 480,000 to relatives of citizens and permanent
resident aliens, 140,000 to workers with special skills, and 55,000 to
people from nations that have sent relatively few immigrants to the
U.S. in recent years.