Marbury v. Madison and the Marshall Court

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

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Under Chief Justice Marshall, the US Supreme Court became a major player in American government for the first time, far more important than anyone could possibly have envisaged. After arrogating to itself the power of judicial review in Marbury v Madison (1803) the Court came to occupy a central position in American civic life, one it has yet to relinquish to this day.

The overall jurisprudence of the Marshall Court can be seen as closely aligning with the Federalist agenda, complete with a more flexible interpretation of the Constitution. Not surprisingly, Jefferson and other leading Republicans looked upon the judiciary as a Federalist bastion, attempting to achieve through the courts what they palpably failed to do in the 1800 Presidential election. Despite the conspiratorial tenor of the Republicans' political rhetoric there was more than a grain a truth in their suspicions. Marshall had, after all, been appointed by President Adams, who described him as his "gift" to the American...

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