Calvin Pease

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Calvin Pease was born on September 9, 1776, in Suffield, Connecticut. Pease studied law and, in 1798, passed the Connecticut bar exam. Shortly after becoming a lawyer, Pease moved to the Northwest Territory. In 1800, the territorial government granted him a law license. Pease then embarked on a life of public service. He was the original clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions for the Northwest Territory, which met in Warren. Pease moved to Warren, but left in late 1801 to become the first postmaster of Youngstown. His appointment was effective January 1, 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, Pease 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 was a clear violation of that guarantee. Because of Pease's decision, the law could not be enforced in Ohio. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Huntington and George Tod sustained Pease's decision. The judges' actions essentially established judicial review of legislative decisions.

At the heart of this case was the question of the courts' ability to declare laws unconstitutional. The legislature had no desire to relinquish any power to the judiciary. To weaken the judicial branch, the legislature attempted to impeach Pease. The legislature acquitted Pease of all crimes. 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.

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