Friday, February 1, 2013

Cohens v. Virginia case brief

Cohens v. Virginia
19 U.S. 264

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiffs appealed a judgment of the Court of Hustings, Borough of Norfolk (Virginia) finding Virginia statute prohibiting sale of lottery tickets was valid despite statute passed by Congress authorizing the sale of lottery tickets in Washington, D.C.

FACTS: Plaintiffs filed writ of error appealing the judgment of lower court convicting them of violating Virginia's gaming laws. Plaintiffs legally purchased lottery tickets in Washington, D.C. and sold them in Virginia. The Court affirmed. The Court found the writ of error was governed by the Constitution, and judicial power extended to all cases arising under the Constitution without respect to the parties. The Court found the Constitution granted it jurisdiction and authority to hear the controversy between a gaming law enacted by Congress, and a state law prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets. The Constitution further granted the federal judiciary with supervisory power over state court judgments. Lastly, the Court found that Congress enacted the lottery statute according to its exclusive legislative power over Washington, D.C. intending it to be local legislation. Since the lottery statute was not enacted as a law of the United States, it did not preempt state statutes.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment finding the Constitution granted it jurisdiction to hear the controversy, and the lottery statute passed by Congress applied to Washington, D.C. only.


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