The Marshall Court (1801–35)


What was the only major constitutional decision in which Chief Justice Marshall was on the dissenting side?

The only major decision that Chief Justice Marshall found himself in dissent was the Court’s 1827 in Ogden v. Saunders. The Court was asked to decide whether a state bankruptcy law violated the Contract Clause for contracts that were entered after the passage of the law. The Court ruled 4–3 that state bankruptcy laws were constitutional as applied to contracts passed after the legislation. The case involved George Ogden, a New Yorker, who sought to discharge his debt to John Saunders of Kentucky. The majority of four believed that a state had the power to pass a bankruptcy law and that such a law did not violate the Contract Clause for contracts passed after the bankruptcy law. All four justices in the majority wrote separate opinions.


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