Thursday, February 22, 2018
#53 / Unprecedented
John Marshall, pictured above, is a "Forgotten Founding Father," to use the title of a book review that appeared in the February 17-18, 2018, hard copy edition of The Wall Street Journal.
The book reviewed, Without Precedent, was authored by Joel Richard Paul, who is a law professor at Hastings Law School. Paul's book was reviewed by Fergus M. Bordewich, who calls the book a "scholarly but highly readable and often entertaining chronicle that embeds Marshall among the leading lights of the nation's founding generation, humanizing him along the way." Bordewich promotes Without Precedent by saying that, "No man did more to shape the judicial landscape of America than John Marshall."
In other words, you should read this book!
This Quarter, I am teaching a Legal Studies course at the University of California, Santa Cruz, which is titled, "Introduction To Legal Process." I am definitely trying to insure that students in that class don't forget about John Marshall. Based on the class scores on a question on the Midterm Examination, asking about Marshall's connection to Marbury v. Madison, I think I may be succeeding. When asked about this case, which Paul calls "the single most significant constitutional decision issued by any court in American history," ninety-seven percent of the students taking the test properly associated Marshall with this incredibly important decision.
Any reader of this blog posting who might not have been able to get the correct answer, when asked about Marshall and Marbury v. Madison, is invited to read the case, by clicking the link above.
Easier, though (and maybe more fun), would be to read the Fergus Bordewich review of Paul's book. Just click this link. The review is not too long - but long enough to give you a very good idea of the seminal importance of John Marshall on our system of democratic self-government.
Frankly, given the success of Hamilton, the musical, based on a biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow, a comparable musical about Marshall should not be long in coming!