• Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although the Supreme Court dismissed this case involving a state’s extradition of a suspect to Canada, Roger Brooke Taney’s opinion is a memorable assertion of federal control of foreign affairs.

The governor of Vermont had a Canadian resident wanted for murder in Canada arrested, with the intent of sending him back to Canada, although no extradition treaty existed. The Supreme Court, split four to four, was forced to dismiss this case. Chief Justice Roger Brooke TaneyTaney, Roger Brooke;Holmes v. Jennison[Holmes v. Jennison] wrote for himself and Justices Joseph Story, John McLean, and James M. Wayne. Justices Smith Thompson, Henry Baldwin, Philip P. Barbour, and John Catron wrote opinions in disagreement. Justice John McKinley was absent. McKinley’s frequent absenteeism and lack of contribution gave him the reputation as one of the weakest members of the Court. Although the case was dismissed, the positions of the justices are important.Foreign affairs and foreign policy;Holmes v. Jennison[Holmes v. Jennison]

Taney offered the nationalist view that the federal government controlled foreign affairs and that the Vermont governor did not have the right to arrest someone who was wanted by a country with whom the United States did not have a treaty. The four who disagreed believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a habeas corpus petition. Thompson joined Taney in stating that the Vermont governor did not have the right of arrest, making five justices who did not believe the governor acted properly. Noting that, the Vermont supreme court decided to release the Canadian suspect although the Supreme Court did not take the case.

Foreign affairs and foreign policy

McKinley, John

Treaties

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