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John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court (Southern Biography Series) 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807132494
ISBN-10: 0807132497
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this comprehensive scholarly study of the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, Newmyer (Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story) succeeds at "locat[ing] Marshall and his jurisprudence in the broader historical context." Newmyer, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, cites three principal sources for Marshall's constitutional thinking: his experience as a Revolutionary soldier, his law career steeped in the common law tradition, and his upbringing among the landowning elite in Virginia. These formative influences, Newmyer contends, created in the fourth chief justice a belief system centered on the primacy of the federal union and respect for property rights. As a judge, Marshall (1755-1835) believed in but did not always practice nonpolitical interpretation of the Constitution. Newmyer profiles a dozen of the justice's foundational opinions for the Supreme Court, demonstrating Marshall's persistent nationalist vision in which a written Constitution trumps divisive state and local interests. At the end of his career, Marshall believed his vision had been swept aside by history; and so it had, as states' rights gained ascendancy in the years leading up to the Civil War. However, his decisions are still cited as precedents today and have had a formidable impact on key legislation such as New Deal welfare programs. In this sustained and thoughtful examination, Newmyer concentrates on his subject's ideas more than his personality or his life's chronology. The author plainly approves of Marshall as a man, a thinker and a judge, and this account will persuade readers that the judge is indeed worthy of study and admiration. 27 b&w illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A legal and historical scholar with particular expertise in assessing the impact of U.S. Supreme Court heavyweights, Newmyer here offers fresh insight into the life, times, contributions, and significance of the Court's fourth chief justice. Focusing on Marshall's judicial career, he plunges into his early days as a novice lawyer and member of the Virginia legislature who was rapidly transformed by the Revolution into a frontier republican. Subsequently, he would step forth upon the national stage as a champion of the new order envisioned by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The author points with consistency to Marshall's application of the rule of law in translating political confrontation and to his application of common-law rules and remedies in rectifying disputes. Chief Justice Marshall left an enduring legacy upon the Supreme Court by revealing a willingness to make political calculations a part of the decision-making process while nonetheless adhering to the rule of law in its pronouncements. In this context, notes the author, the lasting power of the Court became manifest as a result of Marshall's unique style of leadership. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court, Criminal Branch Law Lib., First Judicial District, New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Biography Series
  • Paperback: 511 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807132497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807132494
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
John Marshall, our nation's fourth Chief Justice, served from 1801 until 1835. He was appointed by President John Adams in one of the last and most significant acts of his administration.
Professor Kent Newmyer has written a comprehensive account of the great Chief Justice's career. The account is admirably researched and documented, drawing extensively on a new edition of Marshall's papers. It includes careful analyses of Marshall's leading opinions. Most importantly, Professor Newmyer gives a thoughtful discussion of Justice Marshall's place on the Court and on the importance of his vision of the United States for our history.
The book includes a good discussion of Marshall's role in the Revolutionary War, as a successful lawyer in Virginia, and as a landowner and extensive land speculator. But most of the book consists of a discussion of Marshall's career on the Court, his opinions, and the manner in which he shaped the Court as an institution.
While Newmyer admires his subject greatly, I found this a very balanced account. He allows that Justice Marshall did not always meet his own stated goals of separating law from politics and notes how Marshall's activities as a land speculator seemed to play a critical role in several of his leading opinions.
The discussion begins with Marbury v Madison and its role in the doctrine of judicial review. It continues with a thorough discussion of Marshall's role in the treason trial of Aaron Burr, through a discussion of the great opinions construing the Commerce Clause and Contracts Clause of the Constitution, through the Cherokee Nation opinions that Marshall wrote near the end of his tenure which established the foundation of American Indian Law. (Professor Newmyer considers these decisions Justice Marshall's proudest moment.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maybe I'm getting spoiled with the recent output of historical profiles that have the narrative quality of great fiction, like Caro's LBJ series, Chernow on Hamilton, and McCullough's books on our founding. Given that high bar, Newmyer's history of Marshall is a very difficult read.

This book plods along. When discussing a principle the court dealt with Newmyer often makes it impossible to keep track of what year or even decade he's referring to, making it difficult to put the principles discussed into the proper context, especially political context. I also felt the book was very biased, glorifying his conservative nationalism without really defining why his brand of nationalism should be considered conservative rather than liberal or even non-ideological.

This book would prove helpful in a Constitutional Law class discussing certain principles and their historical development, especially the rise of Corporations, but only with the guidance of a Professor who knows the era and Marshall's court well and only in small doses. I'm a sucker for books about our founding ideals and the history of our framers, but this was torture and with no obligation to finish this book, I finally gave up about ¾ of the way through, which I rarely do.
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Format: Paperback
Newmyer does a masterful work with his book `John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court'. This is more that just a standard history of John Marshall. Newmyer focuses on the legal nuances of Marshall's opinions and also the complexity of his mature jurisprudence during the development of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was then and is still today overshadowed more by Marshall than any other Justice. Marshall was the conservative nationalist who envisioned a theory of "Cooperative Federalism" between the States and the Federal Courts. He felt that the Constitution was not a code of laws but a written document that declared itself to be the supreme law of the land. He sought to keep constitutional questions, of a legal nature, the exclusive right of the Supreme Court and not left up to the States and the political parties of the day. This placed him at odds with Jefferson and would result in a decade long battle to make constitutional interpretation the business of lawyers and judges not politicians. Marshall feared localized states representative's potential abuse of power. He considered the Union to be in danger from states interpreting the Constitution with all their associated cultural localisms. Newmyer unfolds Marshall belief that "the states constitute parts of the Union; they are members of one great empire, sometimes sovereign, sometimes subordinate". His vision was to make the court a legal institution guided by legal interpretation and avoid politics. Combining this with fair-minded judges aided by time-tested rules of interpretation, to ascertain the meaning of constitutional language, would resolve every major national or states issue. Marshall's Supreme Court constitutional interpretation monopoly was not to be.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting, thoroughly documented, balanced study of a key character in the evolution of American law. Recommended reading for any student of constitutional law--particularly federal judges!
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By G man on March 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
school assignment
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