Downes v. Bidwell

In Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244 (1901), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the rights and protections of the Constitution do not automatically apply to U.S. territories. The case is one of the “Insular Cases” that addressed the legal relationship between the United States and its territories. Samuel Downes operated a business under the [...]

The Sixteenth Amendment: The Federal Income Tax

Sixteenth Amendment

The Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution eliminated the requirement that federal taxes be levied on individuals in proportion with the populations of their states. The amendment cleared the way for the imposition of federal incomes taxes. Under the original Constitution, Congress was authorized to levy taxes on the American people. However, if Congress wanted [...]

Bank of the United States v. Deveaux

In Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, 5 Cranch 61 (1809), the U.S. Supreme Court first considered the citizenship of corporations for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction. The Court unanimously concluded a corporation was not a “citizen.” The Bank of the United States filed a lawsuit against Peter Deveaux, a Georgia tax collector, to [...]

Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt

On April 19, 2016, the Supreme Court reached another 4-4 tie. In Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, the justices could not decide whether to overrule Nevada v. Hall, 440 U.S. 410 (1979), a case authorizing citizens of one state to sue the officials of another in their local courts. The justices did, however, [...]

Ware v. Hylton

In Ware v. Hylton, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal courts are authorized to determine the constitutionality of state laws. The Court subsequently held that the Treaty of Paris took precedence over a Virginia state law. The Treaty of Paris brought an end to the Revolutionary War [...]

Heffernan v. City of Paterson

Heffernan v. City of Paterson

In Heffernan v. City of Patterson, the U.S. Supreme Court held that when an employer demotes an employee out of a desire to prevent the worker from engaging in protected political activity, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action under the First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, even if the employer's actions [...]

Hylton v. United States

In Hylton v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an annual tax on carriages was a valid exercise of Congress’ constitutional authority. It specifically ruled that the tax was not a direct tax that required compliance with Article 1’s requirements for the apportioning of direct taxes.The Facts of Hylton v. United States  In 1794, [...]

Bank Markazi v. Peterson

In Bank Markazi v. Peterson, 578 U. S. ____ (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 8772 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 does not violate the separation of powers. Congress enacted the statute to ensure that assets held by the Bank of Iran would be available to [...]


In Arver v. United States, 245 U.S. 366 (1918), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress was authorized under the Constitution to compel military service pursuant to the Selective Service Act of 1917. The consolidated cases are also known as the “Selective Draft Law Cases.”  The Facts of the Case Congress enacted the Selective Service [...]

Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States

In Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Standard Oil Company was guilty of operating a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. While the Court upheld the application of the anti-trust law under the Commerce Clause, it limited the reach of the Sherman Anti-Trust [...]