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.
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.
Seperation of Powers / Federalism
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 Gibbons recieved a Federal license and claimed that his license superceded that of Ogden.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.
Angered by the existence of the new Federal bank, the state of Maryland decided to tax the bank. 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 affirmed McCulloch’s position. This precedent established the superiority of the federal government.
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.
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.”
An Illinois statute imposed a penalty on railroads that charged the same or more money for passengers or freight shipped for shorter distances than for longer distances. The railroad in this case charged more for goods shipped from Gilman, Illinois, to New York, than from Peoria, Illinois, to New York, when Gilman was eightysix miles closer to New York than Peoria. The intent of the statute was to avoid discrimination against small towns not served by competing railroad lines and was applied to the intrastate (within one state) portion of an interstate (two or more states) journey. At issue was whether a state government has the power to regulate railroad prices on that portion of an interstate journey that lies within its borders.
The Supreme Court of the United States held the Illinois statute to be invalid and that the power to regulate interstate railroad rates is a federal power which belongs exclusively to Congress and, therefore, cannot be exercised by individual states. The Court said the right of continuous transportation from one end of the country to the other is essential and that states should not be permitted to impose restraints on the freedom of commerce. In this decision, the Court gave great strength to the commerce clause of the Constitution by saying that states cannot impose regulations concerning price, compensation, taxation, or any other restrictive regulation interfering with or seriously affecting interstate commerce. [One year after Wabash, Congress enacted the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). This commission had the power to regulate interstate commerce.]
Freedom of Speech
The court ruled against Schenck saying that the Espionage Act did not violate the first amendment and that in times of war the government may place reasonable limitations on freedom of speech. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes outlined the courts opinion by explaining that when a “clear and present danger” existed such as shouting fire in a crowded theater, freedom of speech may be limited.
The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the lower court’s decision in favor of the United States. The Court said that Debs had actually planned to discourage people from enlisting in the Armed Forces. The Court refused to grant him protection under the First Amendment freedom of speech clause, stating that Debs “used words [in his speech] with the purpose of obstructing the recruiting service.” Debs’ conviction under the Espionage Act would stand, because his speech represented a “clear and present danger” to the safety of the United States. (Source – PATCH – See link below)
The Supreme Court citing Gibbons v Ogden as the precedent reversed the lower courts decision in Schecter and struck down the NIRA as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court thus said reaffirmed the fact that the federal government may not regulate intrastate trade only interstate trade.
The NIRA was replaced with National Labor Relations Act, NLRA, which created the NLRB, set fair work standards and with the Fair Labor Standards Act, passing the first minimum wage per hour, 20 cents, maximum work week, 44 then 40 hours, and banned 16 year olds and younger from factory jobs.
The Supreme Court agreed with Butler and struck down the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. The next year Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1934 which taxed processors and then placed the money into the governments general fund. Then farmers were paid out of the general fund not to grow food. The laws had the same effect, its just that the later version was done legally.
The Court found that the Smith Act did not violate Dennis’ First Amendment right to free speech. Although free speech is a guaranteed right, itis not unlimited. The right to free speech may be lifted if the speech presents a clear and present danger to overthrow any government in the United States by force or violence. Since the speech made by Dennis advocated his position that the government should be overthrown, it represented a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. (Source – PATCH – See link below)
At issue was whether Yates’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech protected his advocating the forceful overthrow of the government. The Supreme Court of the United States said that for the Smith Act to be violated, people must be encouraged to do something, rather than merely to believe in something. The Court drew a distinction between a statement of an idea and the advocacy that a certain action be taken. The Court ruled that the Smith Act did not prohibit “advocacy of forcible overthrow of the government as an abstract doctrine.” The convictions of the indicted members were reversed. (Source – PATCH – See link below)
The court ruled against the school district saying that “students do not shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates. In doing so the court protected what has come to be known as “symbolic speech.”
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the students, saying that the books were not required reading. According to Justice Brennan, who cited West Virginia Board of Education v. Bamette, 319 U.S.624 (1943), “Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in these books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.” He also cited Tinker v. Des Moines School District, 393 U.S.503 (1969), saying that high school students have First Amendment rights in the classroom. Although the schools have a right to determine the content of their libraries, they may not interfere with a student’s right to learn. Therefore, the schools may not control their libraries in a manner that results in a narrow, partisan view of certain matters of opinion. The Court stood against the removal or suppression of ideas in schools.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the school board acted entirely within its permissible authority in punishing Fraser for “his offensively lewd and indecent speech.” This was not a situation where Fraser was sanctioned for expressing a political viewpoint as in the Tinker “armband” case; the sexual innuendo was incidental to the merits of the candidate who was being nominated. “It is a highly appropriate function of public school education to prohibit the use of vulgar and offensive terms in public discourse . . . Schools must teach by example the shared values of a civilized social order.”
The Court repeated its recognition of an interest in protecting minors from exposure to vulgar and offensive spoken language. Even in a heated political discourse among adults, the Court emphasized the need for consideration for the personal sensibilities of the audience. “A high school assembly or classroom is no place for a sexually explicit monologue directed towards an unsuspecting audience of teenage students.” The Court also stated that the school regulation and the negative reactions of two teachers gave Fraser sufficient notice that his speech might result in his suspension.
Johnson’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Texas, which ruled that this mode of self-expression was protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld this ruling, stating the flag burning was “expressive conduct” because it was an attempt to “convey a particularized message.”