• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a congressional modification of the federal court structure.

In 1802 Congress repealed the 1801 Judiciary ActJudiciary Acts of 1801-1925, abolishing previously established circuit courts and depriving sitting judges of their positions, despite the Article III, section 1, lifetime term protections. Congress also required Supreme Court justices to ride the circuits as judges. Declaring yet another congressional enactment unconstitutional only six days after the Supreme Court overruled Congress on Marbury v. Madison (1803) would have left the Court in a difficult position. Justice William Paterson,Paterson, William;Stuart v. Laird[Stuart v. Laird] who wrote the unanimous opinion for the Court, avoided this potential constitutional crisis by narrowly focusing on the question of whether Congress could act to move a case from the old circuit court to a new one. The Court found that it could and also found that the Court had already accepted the practice of riding circuitCircuit riding and was not able to withdraw from the practice at this late date. Chief Justice John Marshall did not participate.Judicial review;Stuart v. Laird[Stuart v. Laird]

Circuit courts of appeals

Circuit riding

Judiciary Acts of 1801-1925

Marbury v. Madison

Separation of powers

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