Fletcher v. Peck

(1810)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Fletcher v. Peck is a difficult decision to read, for much of Marshall’s discussion turns on principles of real estate law and on the complexities of appellate and civil procedure. Thus, for example, he makes several early references to “demurrers,” which are responses to a complaint filed in a lawsuit that ask a court to dismiss the suit on the ground that even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, the suit has no legal basis. The parties to the suit are not simply the “plaintiff” and the “defendant” but the “plaintiff (and defendant) in error,” which simply means that the parties are bringing the case on appeal. Marshall carefully examines these procedural matters before getting to the heart of the case.

In essence, the Court deplores the corruption behind the Georgia legislature’s sale of the land. That corruption, however, was the fault of neither of the parties to the case. The contracts for the sale of the land...

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Statue of John Marshall at John Marshall Park in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)

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