The Marshall Court (1801–35)


In what decision did the Marshall Court reject a federal common-law claim of seditious libel?

The Marshall Court ruled in United States v. Hudson and Goodwin (1812) that the federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a common-law criminal seditious libel case. The case arose after the federal government charged Barzillai Hudson and George Goodwin for publishing in the Connecticut Currant that the president and the U.S. Congress gave French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte $2 million to make a treaty with Spain. Justice William Johnson wrote that “the legislative authority of the Union must first make an act a crime, affix a punishment for it, and declare the Court that shall have jurisdiction of the offence.”


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