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Privilege and Creative Destruction: The Charles River Bridge Case

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Charles River Bridge Case, decided in 1837 by the U.S

First argued before the Supreme Court in 1831 -- when a deadlocked Court had been unable to reach a decision -- the case returned for reargument in 1837. In the intervening years, the personnel of the Court had shifted dramatically. Former had died and several new justices had been appointed to the Court by the pro-states' rights Democratic President Andrew Jackson. The Charles River Bridge case was the first important decision issued by the Court under the new leadership of , and unsurprisingly, it marked a sharp departure from many of the Marshall Court's most important precedents. , a holdover from the Marshall Court who had been among the former Chief's staunchest judicial allies, dissented in the case -- and the split between his opinion and that of Taney for the majority was indicative of the distance the new court had already traveled from the Marshall era.

Before the Charles River Bridge case was argued before the Supreme Court again, there was a situation in 1833 involving the Camden and Amboy Railroad and the Delaware and Raritan Canal companies. This was not a case that went before the Supreme Court, but many prominent lawyers and justices were asked for their opinion on the situation, and among them was Taney, who was then the Attorney General

Charles River Bridge Case :: Court Case Charles River

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  • The Significance of the Charles River Bridge Case

    Before the Charles River Bridge case was argued before the Supreme Court again, there was a situation in 1833 involving the and the companies. This was not a case that went before the Supreme Court, but many prominent lawyers and justices were asked for their opinion on the situation, and among them was Taney, who was then the . Both of the companies had convinced the legislature of 1832 to add a condition to their charters that no other companies would be able to build a means of transportation between and for a certain amount of time. Taney’s opinion on the case was that no legislature should have the power to stop the state from creating because it was such an important aspect of the state’s power.

    A new edition of Kutler's classic work, in which he analyzes the origins, context, and impact of the Charles River Bridge case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Massachusetts had