Select Page

Constitutional Law I
University of Toledo School of Law
Knouse, Jessica

Constitutional Law – Chronology of Major Cases


1803    Marbury v. Madison – C.J. Marshall – mandamus
·         est judicial review; boundaries of power of judicial (law) and executive (policy) branches
·         1st time SC struck act of Congress (§13 of 1789 Judiciary Act < Art III) ·         SC has final word on constitutionality 1810    Fletcher v. Peck – C.J. Marshall – “Natural law” property rights ·         3rd party bona fide purchasers have right to land purchased through sweetheart deal scam by GA legislature; later legislature cannot repeal land grants ·         Art I §10 (states) and 9 (congress) – no bills of attainder, ex post facto laws ·         §10 prohibits states from impairing contracts (not absolute – heightened scrutiny) 1819    McCulloch v. Maryland – C.J. Marshall – Nat’l bank (p.17) ·         “necessary and proper” – if ends w/in Art. I §8 enumerated pwrs, any “appropriate” means ok ·         sweeping expansion of Congressional power ·         non-enumerated pwrs retained by people not states ·         states cannot tax fed institution 1824    Gibbons v. Ogden – C.J. Marshall – state vs. fed licenses for NY waterways (126) ·         Fed law trumps state law (commerce + supremacy) ·         Commerce power “plenary,” broad, includes navigation, control of waterways; Congress controls commerce “which concerns more than one state” (some intrastate) ·         States retain police power (incl quarantine of immigrants for public health, etc) 1833    Barron v. Baltimore (113) ·         Bill of Rights applies to fed not state gov’t ·         (Overruled by 14th amend (1868) and subsequent incorporation cases) 1837    NYC v. Miln – Barbour – state police power vs fed commerce (316) ·         NY law making ship captain responsible for Irish immigrants ok b/c police power not commerce; police power “inherent” pwr to protect public health/well-being ·         Story dissent: NY law about commerce, invalid b/c congress’s pwr exclusive (dormant commerce clause) 1842    Prigg v. Pennsylvania – Story – Struck Penn law prohibiting self-help catching fug. slaves (173) ·         Constitution may not be interpreted as to nullify a right, must choose interpretation that favors enforcement of the right ·         Congressional action preempts state laws where congress granted power by constitution ·         “constitution not a suicide pact” (political reality, need to federalize slave laws) 1851    Cooley v. Bd of Wardens – (?) – Penn law requiring local pilots on ships in/out of harbor ok ·         Concurrent power btwn state and fed to regulate commerce – state law ok if not in conflict w/ fed law (rejecting dormant commerce clause idea) ·         Intent of state law important 1857    Dred Scott v. Sanford – C.J. Taney – slaves brought to free state suing for freedom (183) ·         Struck part of Missouri Compromise limiting slavery in new territories ·         Divides state citizenship from national – blacks not UScitizens, cannot use fed courts 1861    Ex Parte Merryman – Taney – Lincoln suspension of habeus corpus ( ·         Exec cannot suspend habeus corpus – congress only (suspension mentioned in Art 1, not Art 2) 1863    The Prize Cases – (unsigned, 5-4) Lincoln confiscated Confederate supply ships before war decl. (220) ·         Ok under exec power to suppress insurrection (Art 2 and 1795 Act) ·         War as “non-justiciable” political issue; Court will not question president’s judgment ·         Ends justify means ·         Congress can retroactively ok president’s usurpation of congressional war powers (1861 Act) [1865   13th Amendment – no slavery] 1866    [Civil Rights Act – guarantee to blacks right to make contracts, own property, access courts; based on 13th only (pre-14th); limited to ‘civil’ rights, separate from ‘political’ rights, i.e. voting.] Ex Parte Milligan [1868   14th Amendment –states cannot deprive DP or EP] [1870   15th Amendment – black men can vote] 1873    The Slaughterhouse Cases – Miller – Upheld La. monopoly grant over slaughterhouses (315) ·         State law ok under police power, public health etc. ·         Re

ins – Matthews – San Fran laundry licenses discriminatory against Chinese (846)
·         Facially neutral law struck b/c as applied violates EP
·         Statistical evidence used to show pattern of discrimination
·         Police power must be reasonable, good faith, for promotion of public good, not for oppression of particular class

1889    Chae Chan Ping v. US – Field – 1888 Chinese Exclusion Act trumps 1868 treaty w/ China (40)
·         Treaty same pwr as act of Congress; most recent trumps
·         Congress has inherent pwrs of sovereignty, incl pwr to deal w/ other nations (need not be enumerated)

1896    Plessy v. Ferguson – Brown – Upheld *facially neutral* racial segregation in public accom. (272)
·         “Separate but equal” ok, does not violate EP; segregation not per se sign of inferiority;
·         Cannot legislate away prejudice; law reflects people’s desire to self-segregate, freedom of association as freedom from integration.
·         Harlan dissent: law should be colorblind (but social inequality ok), people may self-segregate but law may not require it w/out violating 13th ‘badges and incidents” and 14th EP; state may not infringe freedom of association as freedom to integrate.

1903    Champion v. Ames – Harlan (5-4) – Lottery tickets (357)
·         Congress’s commerce power plenary and exclusive; power to regulate = power to prohibit
·         “moral pestilence” of lotteries legit motivation for congress as for states
·         Interstate shipping companies “instrumentalities” congress may regulate under commerce
·         Dissent: fed law unconstitutionally usurps states’ police power; lottery tix not articles of commerce