The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
|“||In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.||”|
Civil cases only
Notice that this amendment does not apply to criminal cases, but only to civil disputes.
The Seventh Amendment has a Preservation Clause (which preserves the right to a jury trial in all cases arising under the common law in England, not in states, at the time of its ratification in 1791) and a Reexamination Clause (which limits reexamination of jury verdicts by courts).
Not incorporated against the states
The Seventh Amendment is one of the few parts of the Bill of Rights that is not incorporated against the states. This amendment applies only against the federal government, although most states have a similar protection in their state constitutions.
Resolved biggest objection to ratification of the Constitution
Perhaps the single biggest objection to the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 was its lack of protection for the right to a jury trial in civil cases, so this right is no small matter. As explained by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers:
|“||The objection to the plan of the convention, which has met with most success in this State, and perhaps in several of the other States, is that relative to the want of a constitutional provision for the trial by jury in civil cases.||”|
The Seventh Amendment has been interpreted by a number of court cases. In Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415 (1996), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an award of compensatory damages against a claim that it was excessive under New York law. The Court ruled that appellate review of a federal trial court's refusal to set aside a jury verdict as excessive is reconcilable with the Seventh Amendment if "appellate control [is] limited to review for 'abuse of discretion.'" Id. at 419. In Weisgram v. Marley Co., 528 U.S. 440 (2000), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that federal trial and appellate courts have the authority to decide, as a matter of law, that judgment should be entered in favor of a verdict loser after unreliable and inadmissible expert testimony is excluded.
- The Federalist No. 83 (Hamilton, July 5, 1788) (emphasis in original) (viewed Aug. 27, 2017)
Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America
Bill of Rights:
1 - Freedom of speech, press, religion, etc.
2 - Right to bear arms
3 - Quartering of soldiers
4 - Warrants
5 - Due process
6 - Right to a speedy trial
7 - Right by trial of a jury
8 - No cruel or unusual punishments
9 - Unenumerated rights
10 - Power to the people and states
11 - Immunity of states to foreign suits
12 - Revision of presidential election procedures
13 - Abolition of slavery
14 - Citizenship
15 - Racial suffrage
16 - Federal income tax
17 - Direct election of the United States Senate
18 - Prohibition of alcohol
19 - Women's suffrage
20 - Terms of the presidency
21 - Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
22 - Limits the president to two terms
23 - District of Columbia Voting for President
24 - Prohibition of poll taxes
25 - Presidential disabilities
26 - Voting age lowered to 18
27 - Variance of congressional compensation