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Hayburn's Case


HAYBURN'S CASE, 2 Dallas 409 (1792), refers to one of the earliest assertions of the independence of the American judiciary, and one of the first instances of federal judicial review. A 1791 federal statute granting pensions to Revolutionary War veterans mandated that the U.S. circuit courts determine whether petitioners qualified. The act gave the secretary of war the power to deny pensions if he believed the courts to be in error. Circuit judges protested that the act, in giving an executive official power to overrule a judicial determination, violated the Constitution's principle of separation of powers. The appeal lodged before the Supreme Court of circuit judges' refusal to act was rendered moot when a new statutory pension plan did not involve judges.


Casto, William R. The Supreme Court in the Early Republic: The Chief Justiceships of John Jay and Oliver Ellsworth. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.

Stephen B.Presser

See alsoJudicial Review .

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