History 2700     MacKay

Unit 7 The New Republic
John Marshall's Precedents/Legal Status of Women

John Marshal: Officer in the Revolution; Virginia Legislature; Virginia Ratification Convention; XYZ Mission to France, 1797; Congressman, 1799-1800; Secretary of State, 1800-1801; sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States, February 4, 1801; died in office, July 6, 1835.

Readings: The power of judicial review

Marbury v. Madison    1803

Is Marbury entitled to his commission?

Does Section 13 of the Judiciary Act authorize the Court to issue a writ of mandamus?

Is Section 13 of the Judiciary Act constitutional?

 If Section 13 of the Judiciary Act is unconstitutional, does the Supreme Court have the power to declare it void?

Also described in Landmark Supreme Court Cases

McClulloch v. Maryland  1819  
Gibbons v. Ogden   
Cherokee v. Georgia    
1831 and 
Worcester v. Georgia   

Worcester is considered one of the most influential decisions in the area of law applicable to American Indians. The Marshall court had previously ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that Indian tribes in the United States did not have the status of foreign nations (famously describing them as "domestic dependent nations"); here the court ruled that the Cherokee nation was a "distinct community" with self-government, "in which the laws of Georgia can have no force". This ruling established the doctrine that the national government of the United States—and not individual states—had authority in Indian affairs.

In reaction to this decision, President Andrew Jackson has often been quoted as defying the Supreme Court with the words: "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" Jackson never actually said this; in fact, because of a legal loophole, he had no grounds for becoming involved unless the Georgia courts formally defied the Supreme Court. That did not happen, since the state of Georgia simply ignored the ruling. What Jackson actually said was that "the decision of the supreme court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate." Jackson's opponents criticized him for failing to act against Georgia, but even if he had wanted to intervene—and he did not—he had no legal authority to do so.

Zinn: Chpt. 6
Brown and Shannon: Chpt. 6

Declaration of Sentiments (1848)

Recommended Readings: Don't Know Much: 135-39, 141-44

Discussion topics:

  1. How might the court’s interpretation of key clauses of the Constitution set a precedent for future cases?  What impact did the Marshall Court have on the U.S. government?
  2. What is femme coveture? How is that concept challenged by theories about inalienable rights, democracy, republicanism?

Project #5:  Read at least three of the articles in Time's special issue "The Radical Mind of Thomas Jefferson," July 5 2004. Comment on how the writers are trying to make Jefferson's life and ideas relevant in our own times--in other words, why should we care about Jefferson? Comment on how the writers help us have a historical perspective as we consider the issues of the New Republic.