• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s split decision in a case involving loan certificates issued by the state of Missouri showed the beginning of the Court’s evolution away from the influence of Chief Justice John Marshall.

Article I, section 10, of the U.S. Constitution bans states from emitting “bills of credits.” Nonetheless, Missouri had authorized circulating loan certificates, arguing that they were a legitimate exercise of state sovereignty. The state further challenged the constitutionality of section 25 of the 1789 Judiciary ActJudiciary Act of 1789;section 25. In a 4-3 split decision unusual for the Supreme Court at the time the Court overturned the Missouri law authorizing the certificates. In his opinion for the Court, Chief Justice John Marshall used a historical analysis of paper money in America to explain why the Constitution’s prohibition on state bills of credit voided the Missouri statute. In keeping with his Cohens v. Virginia[case]Cohens v. Virginia[Cohens v. Virginia] (1821) opinion, Marshall also defended section 25 of the 1789 Judiciary Act, which granted nondiscretionary authority to the Court.[case]Craig v. Missouri[Craig v. Missouri]Fiscal and monetary powers;Craig v. Missouri[Craig v. Missouri]States’ rights;Craig v. Missouri[Craig v. Missouri]

The three dissenters Justices William Johnson, Smith Thompson, and John McLean believed that there was enough variation in the statutory language to exempt the Missouri law from the constitutional provision. Seven years later, the new chief justice, Roger Brooke Taney, upheld a variant of the Missouri currency arrangement in Briscoe v. Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky[case]Briscoe v. Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky[Briscoe v. Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky] (1837).

Briscoe v. Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Cohens v. Virginia

Judiciary Act of 1789

Marshall, John

States’ rights and state sovereignty

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