McCulloch v. Maryland

Other Significant Marshall Court Decisions

Between 1811 and 1824, the Court decided other constitutional cases that put important  interpretive stamps on the meaning of the document.  In all instances, the court upheld Congressional statutes in the face of challenges to their constitutionality. The decisions also tilted power in the direction of the national government and limited the powers of the states.  In unanimous or nearly unanimous decisions the court:

  • Established the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over decisions of state courts (Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 1816)
  • Struck down state laws that impaired the obligation of contracts (Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 1819)
  • Established national supremacy over bankruptcy laws  (Sturges v. Crowninshield, 1819)
  • Upheld the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce (Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824) 

In these decisions, and in the course of deciding other specific cases, the court interpreted ambiguous constitutional provisions and made far-reaching statements about constitutional principles. As will become clear, however, the court’s decisions did not put to rest still unresolved controversies about the nature of the union, the respective powers of the three branches of the national government, or the relationship between the national government and the states.