The first gathering of delegates was a result of the Intolerable Acts.
This resulted in the Declaration of Independence.
The Articles of Confederation were sent to the states for ratification, which was completed on March 1, 1781.
Sent to states on November 15, 1777, it took almost 4 years to be ratified.
Washington hosted this gathering of delegates from Virginia and Maryland, to discuss the freedom of navigation and fishing rights of the Potomac and Pocomoke Rivers, and Chesapeake Bay. The success of this meeting led to the Annapolis Convention.
When the new states started heavily taxing farmers, rebels from several states fought back, in the same spirit they had fought the British and for the same reasons. Daniel Shay was a captain in the war and another issue was that teh soldiers were never paid, and now were threatened with the loss of their homes and farms. So skirmishes took place throughout the states, but especially in Massachusetts. The weakness of the federal government was painfully clear, when they had no authority to call on a force to quash the rebellion. This was a main impetus to changing the Articles of Confederatin and resulted in the Constitution, with stronger federal powers.
Expanding on the Mt. Vernon Conference, The Annapolis Convention attracted a few more people from five states. Their purpose was to discuss interstate commerce and establish rules and regulations on trade. A Convention was called for May 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation.
Originally intended to amend the Articles, an entirely new constitution was begun.
After several months of debate, the Constitution was sighned on September 17, 1787. Then it goes to the states for ratification. Only after a Bill of Rights is proposed, do the hold out states ratify.
The early courts were lead by John Jay, John Rutledge and Oliver Ellsworth, and dealt primarily with procedure and establishing the constitution of the court system. One key case was Chilsom v. Georgia, which set up the 11th Amendment, passed in 1795.
During Marshall's leadership, the court was raised in stature and found powers commensurate with the other two branches, setting the precedent for judicial review and providing the "checks and balances" that the Constitution intended. "Marbury v. Madison" was the landmark case that changed the court forever.
While the Taney court's accomplishments fell under the cloud of its decision in the Dred Scott case, Taney did contribute to the legacy of the court with his leaderhip in interstate commerce, police power in the states and the precedent of distancing the court from politics with the "political questions doctrine."
The Reconstruction era was dark and disturbing for America. The courts reinforced radical Republican policies which exploited the South, both landowners and slaves alike. being exploited, blacks living in conditions worse than when they were slaves. But there were glimmers of light, with key constitutional amendments that abolished slavery, established the 14th amendment and the clarification of citizen's rights (including former slaves).
Later, the right to vote for women, prohibition (and subsequent repeal) also took place during this time.
Such a body of work, impacting America forever, was accomplished in this era. The federal government established it's power over the states with Anti-trust and interstate commerce legislation,providing protection for women and children with labor laws. During these years, there were several constitutional amendments, (16th through 21st).
One of the more interesting situations during the New Deal era was Roosevelt's audacious attempt to "pack the court" by adding up to 15 judges (who would support the New Deal programs) and removing difficult justices based on advanced age.
As it was, Roosevelt appointed more judges than anyone since Washington.
Warren's leadership covered significant landmark cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona and Abington School District v. Schempp (which prohibited Bible reading in school). He approached law as a way to solve problems and restore liberty.
The landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education reversed the court's earlier decision that the doctrine of "separate but equal"was legal. This case regarding separate schools for blacks and whites, stated that separate but equal schools are inherently unconstitutional, and ended state sponsored segregation.
The Supreme Court demurred, saying this was not a good case to set down a decision, since education and taxation were the responsibility of local authorities. Also, no class of people were determined to be discriminated against by the state policies. Also, the court could not apply strict scrutiny since education is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
To better prepare Americans in the sciences and other areas that support national defense, the NDEA helped fund improvements in education, provided loans for students, and worked to attract quality teachers and promote math, science and technology, as well as foreign language, geography, and provide more lab space, better libraries and building media centers, to harness the power of television, to enhance teaching and sharing of knowledge.
The court under Warren Burger faced many highly controversial issues. Abortion, obsenity and free speech, affirmative action- all of these are still very HOT topics today. Burger also was very involved in the Nixon troubles, and despite being appointed by Nixon, he supported the injunction for turning over tapes and evidence during Watergate.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits sharing of private information on students, yet guaranteed that parents and legal guardians had access to student information, until the student was 18 and could decide for his or herself. FERPA helps define what is considered school-related versus personal information, and protects the privacy of students.
IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was one step in several laws to provide "free and appropriate" education for all, regardless of any disabilities they may have. A key enhancement that IDEA provides, is to provide clear IEP's, involve the parents and guardians in putting together a complete plan for students with disabilities, including goals and transition plans as they grow beyond school.
William Rehnquist was a very popular and well-liked justice, and was known for his brand of Federalism, which returned many powers to the states, as intended by the Constitution, under the Equal Protection clause. He tried to keep cases at the state level away from federal interference.