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Case Basics
Hunter's Lessee
Facts of the Case 

Lord Fairfax held land in Virginia. He was a Loyalist and fled to England during the Revolution. He died in 1781 and left the land to his nephew, Denny Martin, who was a British subject. The following year, the Virginia legislature voided the original land grant and transferred the land back to Virginia. Virginia granted a portion of this land to David Hunter. The Jay Treaty seemed to make clear that Lord Fairfax was entitled to the property. The Supreme Court declared that Fairfax was so entitled, but the Virginia courts, where the suit arose, refused to follow the Supreme Court's decision.


Does the appellate power of the Supreme Court extend to the Virginia courts?

Decision: 6 votes for Martin, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Juidiciary Act of 1789, Sect. 25; US Const. Art. 3

The Court rejected the claim that Virginia and the national government were equal sovereigns. Reasoning from the Constitution, Justice Story affirmed the Court's power to override state courts to secure a uniform system of law and to fulfill the mandate of the Supremacy Clause.

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MARTIN v. HUNTER'S LESSEE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 August 2015. <>.
MARTIN v. HUNTER'S LESSEE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 29, 2015).
"MARTIN v. HUNTER'S LESSEE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 29, 2015,