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Justice Marshall Essay

4603 words - 18 pages

Evaluation of Marshall Throughout history, Supreme Court decisions they been evaluated, criticized and praised for their thoughtfulness and consideration of the original document and the framers' intent. As history progresses and the gap between today and the convention widens, justices turn to historical documents and precedents to keep in contact with framers' intent. The fourth Chief Justice that was very in touch with the framers was Chief Justice John Marshall. He broke ground in the judicial branch of government.Justice Marshall wrote opinions for precedent-setting cases such as Marbury v. Madison(1803) and McCulloch v. Maryland(1819). Both of these cases were significant cases in the growth of the nation and nation-state relations.Marshall was well educated for his time and practiced law. His breadth and knowledge of the law would be useful to him throughout his career. He served as a congressman as well as secretary of state before he became a Supreme Court Justice. His experience in government made him more than prepared to be a justice, and a powerful one. With all of his knowledge, Marshall also had influences by other politicians and government figures when writing his decisions. Two key political players in early America were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The new country was still struggling between federalism and states-rights, even after the failed Articles of Confederation, and these two key figures led their respective parties.In order to understand Marshall's decisions it is necessary to understand Marshall himself.Chief Justice John Marshall John Marshall was born on September 24, 1755 in Virginia. At twenty he joined the army and was promoted to captain by 1778. He then retired from active service in December of 1779 and enrolled in the College of William & Mary the next January.He became a lawyer in his home state and later served as a state house delegate. In August of 1789 he was appointed Attorney-General, and in July of 1796 he was appointed Minister to France, but he declined both and stayed in the legislative branch of government. Two years later he declined an appointment as Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court and then in April he served as a U.S. Representative for Virginia. A year later he declined the position Secretary of War and then accepted Secretary of State, finally joining the executive branch of government. In January of 1801 he then accepted the Chief Justice position and served until his death in July of 1835 (Servies).Marshall served as Chief Justice for 34 years and was a federalist for the duration of his political career. The fact that Marshall was a federalist is crucial to understanding his most important decisions. But Marshall also served in all three federal branches of government, state government, and was well versed in the political ideologies of the time. He was aware of the necessity to strike balance between the national government and the protection of the...

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