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Cohens v. Virginia

Cohens V Virginia

The Background of Cohens v. Virginia (1821)

The case of ‘Cohens v. Virginia’ involved two brothers – P.J. Cohen and M.J. Cohen – who undertook the sale of tickets for the Lottery of District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) within the State of Virginia; although Congress had mandated the legality of State lotteries within the United States, the State of Virginia had enacted legislature forbidding the sale of lottery tickets belonging to other States and Districts within Virginia borders. Although the legality latent within the case was a primary consideration, the focal point of the Cohens v. Virginia case is considered to be the establishment of policy regulating the ability of the Federal Government to overrule legislation belonging to individual States; as a result, the Cohens argued their case before the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Federal Government mandated a legal lottery: If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Virginia lawyers.


The Judiciary Act of 1789 states that all Judiciary power is to be concentrated within a single entity, which is known as the Supreme Court of the United States; as a result, legal hearings and decisions deemed to be under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government under the Supremacy Clause are to be tried before the Supreme Court of the United States

The Case Profile of Cohens v. Virginia

The following is a case profile of the legal trial eponymously titled ‘Cohens v. Virginia’:

Date of the Trial: March 3rd, 1821

Legal Classification: Administrative Law; this legal field associated with events and circumstances in which the Federal Government of the United States engages its citizens, including the administration of government programs, the creation of agencies, and the establishment of a legal, regulatory federal standard

Accused Criminal Activity: The following criminal activity and charges were cited by P.J. Cohen and M.J. Cohen – referred to as ‘Cohens’ against the State of Virginia within the appeal brought forth subsequent to the initial ruling:

The Cohens argued that their respective arrest within the State of Virginia was in violation of the Constitution, resulting from the fact that they were selling legal lottery tickets mandated by the Federal Government

United States Reports Case Number: 19 U.S. 264

Date of the Delivery of the Verdict: March 3rd, 1821

Legal Venue of Cohens v. Virginia: The Supreme Court of the United States

Judicial Officer Responsible for Ruling: Chief Justice John Marshall

Involved Parties: The following are the parties named with regard to their involvement in the Cohens v. Virginia case:

P.J. Cohens and M.J. Cohens; Plaintiff(s) – Cohens v. Virginia

The State of Virginia; Defendant - Cohens v. Virginia

Verdict Delivered: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State of Virginia, explaining that the State of Virginia was entitled to enact such legislation within the borders of the States. However, the State of Virginia claimed that the Federal Government was unable to hear cases with regards to individual State legislation; this claim was overruled upon citing that the Federal Government was to assume finality with regard to matters and circumstances existing between multiple States.

Associated Legislation with regard to Cohens v. Virginia: The following statutory regulations were employed with regard to the Cohens v. Virginia trial:

Article III of the Constitution of the United States – within Section 2 – illustrates a legislative clause untitled the Supremacy Clause, which allows the Federal Government to maintain authority over all legislation in the event that contrast and unfair advantage exists; this clause was imposed in order to ensure a uniform and equal legal process within the entirety of the United States

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