• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case, in which it ignored the due process clause, is most notable for the dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan, which can be seen as a precursor to the Fourteenth Amendment incorporation doctrine.

A man convicted of robbery challenged his conviction because of the use of a presentment rather than a grand jury indictment and a jury composed of eight rather than twelve members. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction, eight to one, and summarily dismissed the defendant’s objections. As in the Slaughterhouse Cases[case]Slaughterhouse Cases[Slaughterhouse Cases] (1873), the Court ignored the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and the privileges and immunities clause. To justify its decision, the Court sought out a precedent from a state court in a case taken before the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice John Marshall HarlanHarlan, John Marshall;Maxwell v. Dow[Maxwell v. Dow] dissented eloquently about the importance of the states being required to follow the Fifth and Sixth Amendment’s requirements for a fair trial and due process, thereby presaging the incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the Fourteenth Amendment in the twentieth century.Grand jury;Maxwell v. Dow[Maxwell v. Dow]Jury composition;Maxwell v. Dow[Maxwell v. Dow]

Justice John Marshall Harlan's eloquent dissent in Maxwell presaged the incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the Fourteenth Amendment in the twentieth century.

(Library of Congress)

Barron v. Baltimore

Bill of Rights

Due process, procedural

Due process, substantive

Fourteenth Amendment

Incorporation doctrine

Slaughterhouse Cases

Categories: History Content