Dartmouth holds 're-argument' of landmark Supreme Court case

HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) History is being made Friday night on the campus of Dartmouth College. For the first time ever, the college is holding the re-argument of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that determined the autonomy of the private, Ivy League school.

The event in Alumni Hall commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Dartmouth College v. Woodward. After the Revolutionary War, the state of New Hampshire wanted to nullify Dartmouth's Colonial-era charter, a contract made with King George III. The move would have made Dartmouth a public institution. But Daniel Webster, a Dartmouth alum, argued to maintain the original charter as a private college, ultimately winning the case.

"It would have been comparable to the University of New Hampshire -- which is a great university but is also subject to decision to decision by the state legislature concerning matters as crucial as tenure and the funding of courses or de-funding of them. Because Dartmouth is not so dependent, Dartmouth can arrive at its own decisions through its trustees, its president, its faculty, its students and its alumni. It is a private college and proud of it," said Dartmouth professor of English Donald Pease.

Saturday, a group of constitutional lawyers will discuss the consequences of the historic case and the precedent it has set when it comes to the "sanctity of contract." The event coincides with the 250th anniversary of the founding of the college.