What was the impact of the Marshall Court on the United States government?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most profound impacts of the Marshall Court was in its emphasis of the Supreme Court's power in Marbury v. Madison.

Prior to the Marshall Court, framers of the Constitution like Alexander Hamilton considered the Supreme Court part of the least important branch of government.  The Marshall Court changed this perception in Marbury v. Madison.  The case's critical issue was whether the court had the power to assert a constitutional check on other branches of government.  The Marshall Court argued that the Supreme Court has the power to constitutionally limit the legislative branch and even the President.  Marshall argued that the Supreme Court's "obligation" was  "to uphold the Constitution because, by Article VI, it is the "supreme law of the land." 

Through its decision of Marbury v. Madison, the Marshall Court established the idea of judicial review. This meant that only the judicial branch could review whether laws and actions were constitutional.  The Marshall Court affirmed the power of the Supreme Court.  It had the ability to interpret the Constitution and could use it to determine the validity of the other two branches' actions.  The Marshall Court transformed how the Supreme Court was seen.  In doing so, the Marshall Court had a profound impact on American government.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Marshall court had a significant impact on the federal government. As a result of several decisions, the power of the federal government grew significantly.

The court case of McCulloch v Maryland was very important for the federal government. Maryland had taxed the federal bank. The bank refused to pay this tax saying that a state can’t tax a federal institution such as the bank. The Supreme Court ruled that Maryland was wrong in taxing the bank. The bank didn’t have to pay the tax. More importantly, the Supreme Court said that a loose interpretation of the Constitution was legal. This gave the federal government the power to do things that aren’t specifically stated in the Constitution.

Another case that increased the power of the federal government was Gibbons v Ogden. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government controlled interstate trade. This gave the government more power in dealing with trade between the states.

The impact of the Marshall Court was very positive for the federal government. This court increased the power of the federal government.

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