5 Political Court Cases That Changed History


It could be argued that any legal case that makes it as far as the Supreme Court is political in nature. After all, the Judiciary is one of the three branches of the U.S. government. It both influences, and is influenced by, politics. Still three stand out historically, and two stand out within the last decade as — good or bad — major cases in our nations political history. There are others of huge import of course, but these too have had major affects on the fate of the nation and are worth a look.

1. McCulloch v. Maryland

The case of McCulloch v. Maryland had an enormous effect on the court’s power to alter, or interpret, governmental boundaries. It also resulted in the creation of the U.S. National Bank. Prior to this landmark case, the extent of the government’s ability to interpret the constitution had not been entirely explored, though there was a fair amount of precedent — especially regarding judicial review in Marbury v. Madison.

Chief Justice at the time, John James Marshal, ruled that if a government tried to write out the detailed workings of each and ever aspect of their constitution, it would “partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind,” meaning that it would basically be a billion page document stretching across the entire continent and beyond. “It’s nature, therefore, requires that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredients, which compose those objects be deduced from the nature of the objects themselves,” said Marshal, according to Supremecourt.gov.