By deciding that a state charter of a private institution was protected by the contracts clause of the Constitution, the Supreme Court enhanced protection of corporate property from interference by the states.
Early in the nineteenth century, many Republicans wanted the states to exercise more controls over a new form of economic concentration the corporation.
By a 5-1 majority, the Court declared the New Hampshire laws void because they were an unconstitutional impairment on the obligations of a contract. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Marshall
The Dartmouth College decision promoted the expansion of business interests when they were vulnerable to attack from state legislatures. In effect, the ruling allowed the contract clause to provide most Fifth Amendment protections for private property, which at that time did not apply to the states. The legislatures, however, managed to diminish the impact of Dartmouth College by including reservation clauses, as suggested by Justice Story. Also, in Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge in 1837, the Court took a more limited view of contracts.
Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge
Ex post facto laws
Fletcher v. Peck
Private corporation charters