|Author||R. Kent Newmyer|
|Category||Politics and Sociology|
John Marshall (1755-1835) was arguably the most important judicial figure in American history. As the fourth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from 1801 to 1835, he helped move the court from the fringes of power to the epicenter of constitutional government. His great opinions in cases like Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland are still part of the working discourse of constitutional law in America. Drawing on a new and definitive edition of Marshall's papers, R. Kent Newmyer combines engaging narrative with new historiographical insights in a fresh interpretation of John Marshall's life in the law.
Newmyer vividly unfolds Marshall's early Virginia years- his Americanization in Fauquier County before the Revolution, his decision to fight for independence as "a principled soldier," and his emergence as a constitutional nationalist in the 1780s. Marshall's experience as a Federalist politician and a leading Virginia lawyer during the 1790s, Newmyer argues, defined his ideas about judicial review and the role of the Supreme Court as a curb on party-based, states'-rights radicalism.
Perhaps best known for consolidating the authority of the Supreme Court, Marshall is revealed here to have been equally skilled at crafting law that supported the emerging American market economy. He waged a lifelong struggle against champions of states'-rights constitutional theory, a struggle embodied in his personal and ideological rivalry with Thomas Jefferson.
More than the summation of Marshall's legal and institutional accomplishments, Newmyer's impressive study captures the nuanced texture of the justice's reasoning, the complexity of his mature jurisprudence, and the affinities and tensions between his system of law and the transformative age in which he lived. It substantiates Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s view of Marshall as the most representative figure in American law.