Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventh Amendment (Amendment VII) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. This amendment codifies the right to a jury trial in certain civil cases and inhibits courts from overturning a jury's findings of fact.
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An early version of the Seventh Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1789 by James Madison, along with the other amendments, in response to Anti-Federalist objections to the new Constitution. Congress proposed a revised version of the Seventh Amendment to the states on September 28, 1789, and by December 15, 1791, the necessary three-quarters of the states had ratified it. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson announced the adoption of the amendment on March 1, 1792.
The Seventh Amendment is generally considered one of the more straightforward amendments of the Bill of Rights. While the Seventh Amendment's provision for jury trials in civil cases has never been incorporated (applied to the states), almost every state has a provision for jury trials in civil cases in its constitution. The prohibition of overturning a jury's findings of fact applies to federal cases, state cases involving federal law, and to review of state cases by federal courts. United States v. Wonson (1812) established the historical test, which interpreted the amendment as relying on English common law to determine whether a jury trial was necessary in a civil suit. The amendment thus does not guarantee trial by jury in cases under maritime law, in lawsuits against the government itself, and for many parts of patent claims. In all other cases, the jury can be waived by consent of the parties.
The amendment additionally guarantees a minimum of six members for a jury in a civil trial. The amendment's twenty dollar threshold has not been the subject of much scholarly or judicial writing and still remains applicable despite the inflation that has occurred since the late 18th century ($20 in 1800 is equivalent to $300 in 2020).