This image of Ohio jurist Calvin Pease (1776-1839) is a photographic reproduction of an engraving .The head-and-shoulders portrait of the white-haired Pease portrays him as dignified yet approachable, with a hint of a smile. Pease was born on September 9, 1776, in Suffield, Connecticut. He passed the Connecticut bar exam in 1798 and shortly afterward moved to the Northwest Territory. In 1800 the territorial government granted him a law license. He was the original clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions for the Northwest Territory, which met in Warren (Ohio). Pease left Warren in late 1801 to become the first postmaster of Youngstown in January 1802. He quickly tired of this position and resigned in 1803. In April 1803 the legislature of the newly created state of Ohio elected Pease to a judgeship on the Court of Common Pleas for the Third Circuit. He was the presiding member. During his term as judge, Pease struggled against the state legislature, which had no desire to relinquish any power to the courts. In 1806 he declared a section of a law in violation of the United States Constitution. The Ohio law permitted justices of the peace to oversee legal disputes involving property or money in excess of twenty dollars. Pease declared that the Constitution promised trial by jury and that the Ohio law clearly violated that guarantee. Because of Pease's decision, the law could not be enforced in Ohio. Pease's 1806 ruling was not the end of the story. The question of the courts' ability to declare laws unconstitutional was at the heart of Rutherford v. M'Faddon (1807), one of the most important cases to come before the Supreme Court of Ohio during its early years. In that case, Supreme Court justices Samuel Huntington and George Tod upheld Pease's decision. Rutherford v. M'Faddon established the right to review the constitutionality of legislative and gubernatorial actions In response, the legislature attempted to weaken the judiciary by bringing impeachment proceedings against both Pease and Tod. The two judges maintained their positions by a single vote each. Unhappy with the legislature's attempts to hinder the courts, Pease resigned as Common Pleas Judge in 1810. By 1816 the legislature had a change of heart towards Pease and elected him to two terms (1816-1830) on the Ohio Supreme Court. The judge retired in 1830 and spent the remainder of his life in Warren, Ohio. He died on September 17, 1839.
The Ohio Historical Society SC 3740
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