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THE writings of Chief Justice Marshall on the Federal Constitution possess a twofold value; as presenting the opinions of one who has been justly denominated “THE ExPOUNDER OF THE CONSTITUTION,” and as comprehending the leading decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States on points of law arising under that instrument. The Editor of this volume has had two objects in view in its preparation; the one being, to place within the reach of all his fellow-citizens some of the best writings of one of the greatest and best men that have lived in America; the other, to enable every student of the Constitution of the United States to own those leading reports to which he is constantly referred by his text-books. In order to the completeness of the volume in this latterrespect, the decisions of the Supreme Court, as delivered by other judges, prior to the death of Marshall, are brought together in an Appendix.

In the selection of cases the Editor has been obliged to use his discretion, that the volume might not be too bulky. He has rejected those cases in which some principle was decided that has since been superseded by positive provision (such as the case of Chisholm. v. 2. Georgia, 2 Dallas, 419–480); those, also, in which a mere decision was given without the reasons producing it (for example, Stuart v. Laird, 1 Cranch, 299–309); those involving much common-law learning, and but slightly touching the Federal Constitution (as Green v. Biddle, 8 Wheaton, 1–108); and those relating rather to national than constitutional law (as Brown v. United States, 8 Cranch, 110–154). Dissenting opinions have, in general, been omitted; in Houstom v. Moore, 5 Wheaton, 1, that by Mr. Justice Story is retained, being an expression of Marshall's view, as well as his own, upon a somewhat dark point; and in Ogden v. Saumders, 12 Wheaton, 213, the dissenting opinion of the Chief Justice himself is given, for obvious reasons. Three decisions made by the Chief Justice upon the Circuit are included in the volume; and also one of the Supreme Court not upon a constitutional point-that of Johnson v. M'Intosh; in which last the peculiar power of Judge Marshall appears so fully as to make it come properly within this collection.

To the kindness and assistance of Mr. Justice Story the Editor owes his success in procuring the publication of this volume; and to him, though he is in no degree responsible for the faults in its preparation, the thanks of the community are due, if this compilation shall be found useful.

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When a commission has been signed by the president the appointment of the
officer commissioned is made; and the commission is complete when the seal of
the United States has been affixed to it by the secretary of state. To withhold a
commission thus complete is a violation of a vested legal right.

The supreme court of the United States has no authority to issue a writ of

mandamus, commanding the secretary of state to deliver a paper; original juris-

diction in such cases not having been given by the constitution, and the act of

congress, conferring that authority on this court, not being constitutional.

A law repugnant to the constitution is void. -

The law which gives the United States a preference over other creditors of a
bankrupt is constitutional.

The District of Columbia is not a state, in the sense in which that word is used

in the constitution of the United States. Consequently its citizens cannot main-

tain an action in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Virginia,

under the judicial act of 1789, giving to circuit courts jurisdiction in suits between
citizens of the state where the suit is brought and citizens of another state.

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