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Summary of Court Cases - Summary of Supreme Court Cases 1...

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Summary of Supreme Court Cases 1. Marbury v. Madison (1803) Facts of the Case The case began on March 2, 1801, when an obscure Federalist, William Marbury, was designated as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. Marbury and several others were appointed to government posts created by a Federalist Congress in the last days of John Adams's presidency. These last-minute appointments were never fully finalized, however, since the new President Thomas Jefferson, did not want to seat Federalist judges. Marbury and other disgruntled appointees invoked an act of Congress and sued for their jobs in the Supreme Court. Question Is Marbury entitled to his appointment? Is his lawsuit the correct way to get it? And, is the Supreme Court the place for Marbury to get the relief he requests? Conclusion Yes; yes; and it depends. The justices held, through Marshall's forceful argument, that on the last issue the Constitution was "the fundamental and paramount law of the nation" and that "an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void." In other words, when the Constitution--the nation's highest law--conflicts with an act of the legislature (in this case, the Judiciary Act of 1791, which, among other things, added to the Court’s original jurisdiction), that act is invalid. This case establishes the Supreme Court's power of judicial review and provides the Court with the means of “checking” the other branches. 2. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Facts of the Case In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax. Question The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers? Conclusion In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers—specifically the “necessary and proper clause” of Article I—not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme…they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them." 3. Barron v. Baltimore (1833) Facts of the Case 1
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John Barron was co-owner of a profitable wharf in the harbor of Baltimore. As the city developed and expanded, large amounts of sand accumulated in the harbor, depriving Barron of the deep waters which had been the key to his successful business. He sued the city to recover a portion of his financial losses.
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