DBQ Question
     Determine the significance of the changing role of the Supreme Court in American society from 1803 to 1824.



Document A
     In the distribution of this power it is declared that 'the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party. In all other cases, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction.' The authority, therefore, given to the Supreme Court by the act establishing the judicial courts of the United States, to issue writs of mandamus to public officers, appears not to be warranted by the Constitution; and it becomes necessary to inquire whether a jurisdiction, so conferred, can be exercised.

Marbury v. Madison (1803)



Document B
     This act further authorizes and requires the Governor to use any further means he may think necessary for the protection of what it denominates 'the just rights of the state,' and also to protect the persons and property of the said executrixes of David Rittenhouse, deceased, against any process whatsoever, issued out of any federal Court in consequence of their obedience to the requisition of the said act.

United States v. Peters, 9 U.S. 115 (1809)



Document C
     The State legislatures can pass no ex post facto law. An ex post facto law is one which renders an act punishable in a manner in which it was not punishable when it was committed.
It was doubted whether a State can be seised in fee of lands subject to the Indian title, and whether a decision that they were seised in fee might not be construed to amount to a decision that their grantee might maintain an ejectment for them notwithstanding their title. The majority of the Court is of opinion that the nature of the Indian title, which is certainly to be respected by all courts until it is legitimately extinguished, is not such as to be absolutely repugnant to a seisin in fee on the part of the State.

Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U.S. 87 (1810)



Document D
     The Constitution of the United States was ordained and established not by the States in their sovereign capacities, but emphatically, as the preamble of the Constitution declares, by 'the people of the United States.'... The Constitution was not, therefore, necessarily carved out of existing State sovereignties, nor a surrender of powers already existing in State institutions, for the powers of the States depend upon their own Constitutions, and the people of every State had the right to modify and restrain them according to their own views of the policy or principle.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. 304 (1816)



Document E
     The powers delegated to the state sovereignties were to be exercised by themselves, not by a distinct and independent sovereignty created by themselves.... The government of the Union, then is emphatically and truly, a government of the people.... Its powers are granted by them and are to be exercised directly on them and for their benefit.... The government of the United States, then, though limited in its powers is supreme; and its laws, when made in pursuance of the Constitution, form the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary withstanding.

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)



Document F
     The opinion of the Court, after mature deliberation, is that this is a contract, the obligation of which cannot be impaired without violating the Constitution of the United States....The whole power of governing the college is transferred from trustees, appointed according to the will of the founder, expressed in the charter, to the executive of New Hampshire. The management and application of the funds of this eleemosynary institution... are placed under the control of the government of the state....The charter of 1769 exists no longer.

Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)



Document G
     To this supreme government ample powers are confided; and if it were possible to doubt the great purposes for which they were so confided, the people of the United States have declared that they are given in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity....
     The powers of the Union, on the great subjects of war, peace, and commerce, and on many others, are in themselves limitations of the sovereignty of the states; but, in addition to these, the sovereignty of the states is surrendered...
That the United States form, for many and for most purposes, a single nation has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people... These states are constituent parts of the United States; they are members of one great empire...for some purposes sovereign, for some purposes subordinate.

Cohens v. Virginia (1821)



Document H
     ....But it has been urged with great earnestness that, although the power of Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states be coextensive with the subject itself, and have no other limits than are prescribed in the Constitution, yet the States may severally exercise the same power, within their respective jurisdictions....
     The grant of the power to lay and collect taxes is, like the power to regulate commerce, made in general terms, and has never been understood to interfere with the exercise of the same power by the State...

Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824)


AP US Home Page

Our Main Page

Bibliography

Finished Essay

Web Links