Supreme Court

Court Cases that Changed
Have your Supreme Court WS on
your desk – it will be checked and we
are going over it!
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Partly in order to avoid showdown with Jefferson,
court rules in favor of Madison, stating that
Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional to start
with, thus, Marbury took his case to the wrong
 He does not receive his appointment.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
So What?
Despite backing down to Jefferson, Court gains
powerful tool – Judicial Review.
 Court now has authority to rule whether or not
acts of the government are constitutional.
 Brilliant!
Fletcher v. Peck (1810)
Court held that since the estate had been legally
"passed into the hands of a purchaser for a
valuable consideration," the Georgia legislature
could not take away the land or invalidate the
contract. The Court held that laws annulling
contracts or grants made by previous legislative
acts were constitutionally impermissible –
regardless of intention when passed.
Fletcher v. Peck (1810)
So What?
1st: protected contracts from state interference.
2nd: Court could overturn state laws that opposed
specific provisions of the Constitution Contract
Clause: Art I, sect 10, clause 1. It states: “ No
State shall…pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post
facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816)
VA Supreme Court upheld the confiscation, not on the
grounds that VA law was superior to US treaties, but
because it argued that its own interpretation of the
treaty revealed that the treaty did not, in fact, cover
the dispute. The US Supreme Court disagreed, and
remanded the case back to VA S.C.; VA argued that the
US S.C. did not have authority over cases originating in
state court.
The US S.C. reversed VA’s decision on appeal, ruling that
questions of federal law were within its jurisdiction,
and thereby establishing supremacy in matters of
constitutional interpretation.
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816)
So What?
Court could accept appeals from state courts that
involve federal laws or treaties.
More importantly, it asserted the Supreme Court’s
sovereignty over state courts, rejecting VA’s claim
that they were equal sovereigns.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Court ruled that Congress did have the authority to
charter a bank – via their authority to collect
taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce & raise
 necessary & proper clause
Federal Government is supreme and states could
not interfere;
 taxing the bank was interference.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
So What:
Established doctrine of implied powers, providing
Congress with more flexibility to enact legislation.
Reaffirmed supremacy of Federal government.
Cohens v. Virginia (1821)
Court upheld conviction of Cohen brothers.
The larger issue: actually reviewing state court
cases. The S.C. claimed full appellate jurisdiction
over any case tried before a state court. VA
decided that this was unacceptable & declared
the decision the S.C. made null & void, even
though it had upheld the previous conviction,
because VA felt the ruling limited states' rights.
Cohens v. Virginia (1821)
So What?
Reasserted federal judicial authority over state
Supreme Court argued that when states ratified the
Constitution, they gave up some sovereignty to
federal courts.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
The Court ruled the monopoly unconstitutional.
Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate
interstate commerce – along coast or on
waterways between states.
 States could regulate trade within its own border.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
So What?
Gave Congress the right to regulate interstate
Interstate commerce clause (along with Necessary
& Proper Clause) are the major vehicle for
expanding federal power.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Moral of the Day!
The Constitution says….
…what the Supreme Court says it says.
(until they change what they say it says)