Barbour, Philip P. Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During his five years on the Supreme Court, Barbour supported states’ rights over the authority of the federal government.

Barbour began practicing law in 1802. He was elected to Congress in 1814, where he served as Speaker of the House from 1821 to 1823. In Cohens v. Virginia[case]Cohens v. Virginia[Cohens v. Virginia];Barbour, Philip P.[Barbour, Philip P.] (1821), he unsuccessfully argued before the Supreme Court that a defendant had no right of appeal from a state court to a federal court. He left Congress in 1825, served as a state judge, then returned to Congress in 1827. In 1829 he unsuccessfully introduced a bill requiring five out of seven Supreme Court justices to agree in constitutional cases. In 1830 he was appointed a federal judge by President Andrew Jackson.States’ rights;Barbour, Philip P.[Barbour, Philip P.]Jackson, Andrew;nominations to the CourtStates’ rights;Barbour, Philip P.[Barbour, Philip P.]

Philip P. Barbour

(George Healy/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Jackson nominated Barbour to the Court on December 28, 1835. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 15, 1836, and took the oath of office on May 12. During his relatively brief career on the Court, he usually agreed with the majority as it turned away from supporting the power of the federal government over the states. In New York v. Miln[case]New York v. Miln[New York v. Miln];Barbour, Philip P.[Barbour, Philip P.] (1837), a case involving the power of a state over ships entering harbors from other states or nations, he wrote that “the authority of a state is complete, unqualified and exclusive.” His few dissents from the majority came in cases that involved restrictions of states’ rights.

Jackson, Andrew

New York v. Miln

States’ rights and state sovereignty

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