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How Did John Marshall Affect the American Judicial System?

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Essay title: How Did John Marshall Affect the American Judicial System?

How did John Marshall affect the American Judicial System?

I. Introduction

In the early years of the eighteenth Century, the young United States of America were slowly adapting to the union and the way the country was governed. And just like the country, the governmental powers were starting to develop. Since the creation of the Constitution and due to the Connecticut Compromise, there is the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial Power. But the existence of those powers was not always that naturally. In these crucial times, the Judicial Power had problems controlling the other powers. It was a challenge for the Supreme Court to exercise the powers granted by the new Constitution. Federal Government was not generally appreciated and its formation also caused many disagreements and debates.

The judicial power, also known back then as The Weakest Branch, was created to achieve an effective collaboration of the powers, what we call now Check and Balances. One of the framers of the Judicial Power was John Marshall. Chief Justice John Marshall is one of the main figures in the history of the US Judicial System. He was the youngest Chief Justices in the history of the United States and was the developer of the most important power of the Supreme Court, The Judicial Review.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how Chief Justice John Marshall affected the American Judicial System. The reader will therefore first find a brief biography of John Marshall. Then the paper will explain in detail the origins of the Judicial Power to subsequently discuss Marshall’s great influence on the Judiciary System through the Judicial Review.

II. Biography of John Marshall

John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755 near Germantown, Virginia. He was the eldest of fifteen children and was blessed with outstanding parents. His parents were Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. His father was a planter and one of the leading men of Fauquier County, in those times a frontier county. His Mother was a clergyman’s daughter that had relations with some first families of Virginia. I think that the influence of these families brought Thomas Marshall a desire and eager to educate his son. He was the most influencing person through John Marshall’s early years. As he stated later as an adult, He superintended my education . . . and to his care I am indebted for anything valuable which I have acquired in my youth. (Hobson, 2)

Marshall’s education was brief, for two years he attended the school of the Reverend Archibald Campbell and then was tutored by a Scottish priest named James Thomson. When Campbell left, young Marshall continued his classical studies with the aid of a dictionary. (2) The American Revolution started and Marshall took up arms. He first served as an Officer of Fauquier militia, later he was moved to the Virginia line of the Continental Army. During a pause of the war, he became a student of the first Law professor in America, George Wythe, at the College of William and Mary. It lasted six weeks and was the entire formal law training for Marshall. (Shnayerson, 77)

In 1783, Marshall was elected to the Virginia state legislature. By 1789, he became a prominent figure in Virginia’s legislature. He refused several official nominations, including United States Attorney of Virginia, by George Washington. (78) In 1800, he was nominated as Secretary of State under President John Adams. During the winter of 1801, John Adams nominated John Marshall Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

III. Origins of the Judicial Power

Article III of the United States Constitution establishes a Judicial Power. The separation of powers was created to prevent the new government on becoming too strong. (Cox, 36) The Constitution poorly mentions the amount of power the Judicial Power should have. It does not state anything regarding reviewing any laws coming from Congress or president. Also, not a word names the Judicial Power as the official Constitutional Interpreter. It was in The Federalist No. 78 written by Alexander Hamilton, that Judicial Powers were mentioned. In 1787, referring to a limited constitution, therefore a limited government, Hamilton wrote, Limited government . . . can be preserved in no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty is to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the constitution, void. (Gibson-Robinson, 58)

Chief Justice John Marshall, who was a strong federalist, put this theory in practice in Marbury v. Madison in 1803. It was the beginning of a new era for the Judicial Power.

IV. Marbury v. Madison

By January 1801, John Adams

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