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The Constitution in the Supreme Court: The First Hundred Years, 1789-1888
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Professor Currie’s stated objective (Introduction, page xi) is to provide the reader with a critical history, from a lawyer’s perspective, of the Supreme Court’s constitutional work. Professor Currie illustrates that in the early days some of our esteemed Justices did not reference existing legal precedent, even when it supported their rulings, and issued opinions that went beyond what was required to resolve the case before the court. He also shows how the court has many times changed direction from its prior rulings.
Both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are divided into parts based on who was serving as Chief Justice. Within each part, significant cases of the era are discussed and are grouped in chapters according to the constitutional issue. For example, Part Two of Volume 1, dealing with Chief Justice Marshall’s Court has chapters dedicated to powers of the federal court, the contract clause and natural law, and Congressional authority and other limits on state power. Admittedly, some topics may not be particularly interesting to the general public. However, if you enjoyed high school civics and want to know more about how the Constitution has been interpreted over the years by the Court, this is a most worthy book for your consideration.