John Marshall Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 January 2017

John Marshall

“Its is emphatically, the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is.” (Ducat, Craig Constitutional Interpretation p. 10) These seventeen words written two hundred years ago made the highest court in the United States supreme, and making it so, Chief Justice John Marshall’s words in that sentence continue to make an impact on every Supreme Court case thereafter. Justice Marshall laid the basic foundations to protect the Federal system that was established by the Constitution. In Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, and Gibbons v. Ogden the Supreme Court maintained the United States as a federal state.

Marbury v Madison was the influential case that the Supreme Court cites as a precedent when employing judicial review. It left the power to be rested on the judicial branch when determining to uphold either the law or the Constitution. By establishing the right to judicial review, Marshall, with the support of the legislative and executive branches, made all cases before the courts subservient to the U.S. Constitution. Cases that have been heard after Marbury v. Madison, that come into question, must be interpreted through the Constitution.

Uniformity of all states of the Union were established when Marshall and the Supreme Court ruled in McCulloch v. Maryland. Although the Constitution gave powers to the states under the Tenth Amendment, Marshall implemented the powers of the Federal government by exercising Article 1 Section 8 Clause 18 (necessary and proper clause) and Article 6 Section 2 (supremacy clause). Marshall explained that the Constitution gave the federal government the power to incorporate a bank if it deemed it necessary and proper not for the powers of Congress, but necessary and proper for the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution. Marshall also outlined the rights of the states by enacting Article 6 in his decision. He stated that the supremacy clause prohibited the states from having the power to tax, which would then involve the states power to destroy the powers of the Constitution to create.

Gibbons v. Ogden expanded the powers of the Federal government aforementioned in the previous two influential cases. This case defined the Commerce Clause found in Article 1 Section 8 Clause 3. In his genius, Marshall defined commerce not only as an exchange of commodities, but also the means by which interstate and foreign intercourse those commodities travel. By giving the Federal government control over commerce through interpretation of the Constitution, Marshall preserved the prosperity of the country as an economic Union conducting business under national, not state, control.

Chief Justice John Marshall’s decisions in all three of the cases explained previously depict the evolution of the Supreme Court. Marbury v. Madison separated the powers of the three branches of governments, McCulloch v. Maryland separated and defined the powers of the Federal and state governments, and Gibbons V. Ogden separated the commerce powers of the Federal and state governments. Marshall decided each case based on the foundations established by the U.S. Constitution, and in each of his decisions, he preserved the integrity of the Framers intentions of the United States as a Federal state.

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