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Kendall v. United States

Significance

The decision in Kendall v. United States was a major step in the definition of the powers of the three different branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The Court found that although the president "was beyond the reach of any other department" (except if he or she were being impeached), other members of the executive branch were subject to the rulings of federal court in many instances.

The story of Kendall's fight with the government begins as a story of government corruption. Under President Andrew Jackson, the Post Office Department was known for the large amounts of money that frequently changed hands between the department and the big contractors who were hired to transport the mail. Washington became filled with stories of scandals concerning large contractors who kept their lucrative contracts by unfairly fighting off competition and regarding vague contracts that no one could interpret precisely.

Finally, in 1835, Jackson removed the head of the department (the man was appointed to a post overseas) and replaced him with Amos Kendall. Kendall was a major supporter of Jackson and something of a crusader. He did his best to clean up the department, but he ran into trouble concerning an alleged debt to the firm of Stockton and Stokes, a firm that carried the mail between Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and between Washington and Wheeling, Virginia (today West Virginia).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Kendall v. United States - Significance, A Carriage And A Pair Of Horses, The President Fails To Intervene, The Separation Of Powers