On the eve of his last day in office outgoing President John Adams, a Federalist, appoints 82 Federalist justices. These “midnight judges” as they were called represented a threat to incoming President Thomas Jerreson, a Democrat-Republican. Jefferson feared Federalist interpretation of the law for the next 20 years, a fear that ended up coming to fruition. Among these midnight judges was one William Marbury. Jefferson ordered his Secretary of State, John Madison, not to deliver the official documents granting Marbury his position. Based upon the Judiciary Act of 1801 Marbury appealed directly to the Supreme Court asking for a “writ of mandamus” or an order to act.
Chief Justice John Mashall recognized he would be correct in ordering Madison to deliver the papers but feared weakening the image of the Court if President Jefferson refused to comply. Instead Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1801, which Marbury had used to submit his claim directly to the Court wa s unconstitional, and it was. In this way the Court was able to rule a law unconstitutional and thus created the important precedent of judicial review.
Allowed federal courts to hear challenges to demarcation of voting districts and to require them to have more nearly equal populations. The case began in Tennessee, which had not redrawn state legislative districts for about 60 years, even as millions moved out of rural districts and into cities. The decision broke the rural lock on political power and gave urban voters more nearly equivalent representation.
Angered by the existence of the new Federal bank, the state of Maryland decided to tax the bank
A new state administration had passed a law voiding a land grant made by the previous administration. When the landowners sued, Marshall ruled that the contract had to stand. Article I, Sect 10 of the Constitution forbid state laws “impairing” contracts. Thus the contract law was created making written contracts legal and binding.
Expanded the principle of the Fletcher decision to include contracts between corporations and states. Previously it had been believed that states could disregard contracts held with private enterprise. As more business corporations were established around the country, this ruling became very important.
Ogden held a New York State license allowing him to operate a ferry across the Hudson between New York and New Jersey. Gibbons recieved a Federal license and claimed that his license superceded that of Ogden.
The court ruled that Gibbon’s federal license took precedence over that of Ogden because the federal government was given the power to reglate interstate trade.
In the case Munn v. Illinois (1877) Midwestern farmers felt that they were being victimized by the exorbitant freight rates they were forced to pay to the powerful railroad companies. As a result, the state of Illinois passed a law that allowed the state to fix maximum rates that railroads and grain elevator companies could charge.
McCulloch, a cashier for the bank refused to pay the tax claiming that a state had no power or right to tax the federal government
The Supreme Court of the United States upheldthe Illinois law because the movement end storage of grain were considered to be closely related to public interest. This type of economic activity could be governed by state legislatures, whereas purely private contracts could only be governed by the courts. The Court held that laws affecting public interest could be made or charged by state legislatures without interference from the courts. The Court said, “For protection against abuse by legislatures, the people must resort to the polls, not the courts.”