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Court Cases

1803 Marbury v. Madison

-- William Marbury (a midnight judge) sued for his commission
-- Marshall ruled Marbury's argument was unconstitutional
-- Established judicial review
-- Established Supreme Court's power to rule over constituionality of legislations

1810 Fletcher v. Peck

-- GA legislature grants huge tracts of land to private speculators for bribes
-- They then tried to revoke the transaction
-- Marshall ruled the grant was a contract, and protected under the Constitution
-- Established the validity and binding of contracts

1819 Dartmouth College v. Woodward

-- NH sought to change the Dartmouth College charter, granted by King George III in
-- Dartmouth appealed with support of Daniel Webster
-- Marshall ruled the charter was a contract and could not be changed w/o consent
-- Reinforced the binding of contracts and Constitutional protection

1819 McCulloch v. Maryland

-- MD attempted to destroy a branch of the Bank of the US by taxing its notes
-- Marshall ruled the bank constitutional and denied the right to tax the bank
-- Established loose construction of the Constitution

1824 Gibbons v. Odgen

-- NY attempted to grant monopoly of "waterborne commerce" between NY and NJ
-- Marshall ruled against the attempt
-- Established Congress as the controller of interstate commerce

1842 Commonwealth v. Hunt (Supreme Court of MA)

-- Established labor unions were not illegal conspiracies
(provided methods were "honorable and peaceful")
-- Did not legalize strikes, but took a significant stride at the time

1856 Dred Scott v. Sanford

-- Dred Scott (slave)(IL/WI territory)(5 years) sued for his freedom
-- Based argument on long residence on free soil
-- Ruled Scott was a slave (property) and not a citizen, making his suit invalid
-- Taney ruled slaves were property, and thus could legally be taken into any territo
-- Established slaves officially as property
-- Ruled (MO) Compromise of 1820 had been unconstitutional
-- Ruled Congress had no power to ban slavery from any territory

1886 Wabash Case

-- Ruled individual states had no power to regulate interstate commerce
-- Reinforced Marshall's ruling that only Congress could regulate interstate commerc

1896 Plessy v. Ferguson

-- Ruled "separate, but equal" facilities were constitutional under the "equal protecti
clause under the 14th Amendment
-- Validated the South's segregationist social order
er the Constitution

ed by King George III in 1769

changed w/o consent

y taxing its notes

to tax the bank

e" between NY and NJ

ng his suit invalid
e taken into any territory


ate interstate commerce

nder the "equal protection"