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Important Supreme Court Cases
Transcript of Important Supreme Court Cases
Even though Thomas Jefferson, a Democratric-Republican, won the election of 1800, he would not become president until March of 1801. This gave President John Adams, a Federalist, the opportunity to make hundreds of judicial appointments in his last days in office.
The appointments, known as
"midnight judges" because they were appointed at the very end of Adams' term
, would not take effect until the appointees received their commissions.
During this time, Jefferson comes into office an instructs his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver the commissions.
Marbury v. Madison
One of the appointees, William Marbury, sued James Madison and asked the Supreme Court to force delivery of his commission
arguing that an act of Congress gave the Supreme Court that authority.
The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, said that it did not have the authority to force Madison to deliver the commission, and that the law that said it had the authority was unconstitutional.
As Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 34 years, John Marshall strengthened the power of the federal government by establishing the three principles of
1. the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land.
2. the Constitution must be followed when it conflicts with other laws.
3. the judicial branch can declare laws unconstitutional.
McCulloch v. Maryland
In his 34-year term as Chief Justice, John Marshall helped expand the power of the federal government, even at the expense of state power.
In 1819, Maryland passed a law that taxed the Bank of the United States and its money.
In the case McCulloch v. Maryland, the Court held that:
Congress' creating the Bank of the United States is necessary for the good of the country even though the Constitution does not specifically say that Congress has the power to create banks. This power is implied by the Constitution. So, Congress does have implied powers.
States cannot tax the federal government.
Gibbons v. Ogden
Two steamboat operators, Aaron Ogden and Thomas Gibbons, both operated steamboats across the same route between New York and New Jersey.
They both claimed that laws in NY and NJ gave each one the exclusive right to operate their ship on that route.
The U.S. Congress had already passed a law regarding this issue.
In Gibbons v. Ogden, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce between states, and that these laws overrule state laws in matters affecting more than one state.
Analyze the role played by Chief Justice John Marshall in strengthening the central government.
Identify the key points of Marbury v. Madison, Gibbons v. Ogden, and McCulloch v. Maryland.
Define judicial review.
Important Supreme Court Cases