John Marshall

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John Marshall
John Marshall.png
Current Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Former Chief Justice
Position:   Seat #1
Appointed by:   John Adams
Active:   1/31/1801-7/6/1835
Preceded by:   Oliver Ellsworth
Succeeded by:   Roger Brooke Taney
Personal History
Born:   September 24, 1755
Hometown:   Prince William County, VA
Deceased:   July 6, 1835
Law School:   Read law, 1780
Military service:   Culpeper Minute Men, 1775-1776
Continental Army, 1776-1780

John Marshall (1755-1835) served as the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, from 1801 to 1835. He joined the court in 1801 after a nomination from President John Adams. He served until his death on July 6, 1835.[1] He is best known for establishing constitutional judicial review in Marbury v. Madison.

At the time of his nomination, Marshall was the United States Secretary of State.

Early life and education

Marshall was born in Virginia. During the Revolutionary War, he was a Minuteman lieutenant in Culpepper County for two years, then served in the Eleventh Virginia Regiment as a lieutenant for four years. He earned his law credentials by read law, an independent study program common prior to the creation of law schools.[1]

Professional career

  • 1800-1801: United States Secretary of State
  • 1799-1800: U.S. Representative from Virginia
  • 1797-1798: Minister to France, U.S. Department of State
  • 1780-1797: Attorney, private practice in Virginia
  • 1788: Delegate, Virginia convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution
  • 1787-1788: State delegate, Virginia
  • 1785-1788: Record, Richmond City Hustings Court
  • 1784-1785: State delegate, Virginia
  • 1782-1784: Member, Virginia Council of State
  • 1782: State delegate, Virginia[1]

XYZ Affair

Marshall gained notoriety as a participant in the much publicized XYZ Affair in which he, along with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Elbridge Gerry, hoped to settle ongoing French-American hostilities. During negotiations, three men acting in France's interest and referred to as X, Y and Z, demanded that the American envoy give the French $250,000 before they would be granted an audience with Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (the French Foreign Minister). They refused, the situation worsened and Marshall returned home.[2][3]

Judicial career

Supreme Court of the United States

Marshall was nominated by President John Adams on January 20, 1801, to a seat vacated by Oliver Ellsworth. He was confirmed by the Senate on January 27, 1801 and received commission on January 31, 1801. He served until his death on July 6, 1835.[1] He was succeeded in the post of Chief Justice by Roger Brooke Taney.

Notable cases

Author: John Marshall

Vote Count: 4-0

Majority Justices: William Paterson, Samuel Chase, and Bushrod Washington

Defining Supreme Court authority (1803)

Just prior to leaving office, John Adams appointed William Marbury, among others, to newly created government posts.[4] However, when Thomas Jefferson assumed the presidency, he denied Marbury the post, since Marbury had never received the appointment. Marbury sued at the Supreme Court level, asking for a writ of mandamus. On February 23, 1803, the Supreme Court ruled that Marbury's appointment was legitimate, but that the Supreme Court could not grant the writ of mandamus. This decision allowed for the Court to make a decision, but also to avoid making the president's wrongs public.[5]
Author: John Marshall

Vote Count: 5-0

Majority Justices: William Johnson, Jr., Bushrod Washington, Henry Brockholst Livingston, Thomas Todd

The Contract Clause in practice (1810)

In 1796, the State of Georgia voided a law passed the year before that awarded territory to four companies.[6] A new legislature repealed the law because it was discovered that all but one of the previous legislators had been bribed into granting the land at a bargain price of 1.5 cents per acre.[7] In 1800, John Peck claimed some of the land that was originally granted, and he sold it to Robert Fletcher in 1803. Later, Fletcher believed that Peck did not have the right to sell the land since the Georgia court had invalidated the award. On March 16, 1810, the Supreme Court found in favor of Peck, claiming that Georgia never had the right to repossess the land.[6] The Court found that the original contract between Georgia and the four companies was part of the Contract Clause of the Constitution and could not be repealed.[7]
Author: John Marshall

Vote Count: 7-0

Majority Justices: Bushrod Washington, William Johnson, Jr., Henry Brockholst Livingston, Thomas Todd, Gabriel Duvall

Extending congressional powers, limiting state powers (1819)

The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816 by Congress. Although it was controlled by private stockholders, it held federal funds. In return, the bank was not taxed. Other banks were not pleased with this exemption, so the State of Maryland imposed a steep tax on The Second Bank of the United States. However, the bank refused to pay, so the State of Maryland responded by taking them to court. On March 6, 1819, the Supreme Court decided that Congress could establish a bank, and that the states could not tax a federal bank.[8]
Author: John Marshall

Vote Count: 7-0

Majority Justices: Bushrod Washington, William Johnson, Jr., Henry Brockholst Livingston, Thomas Todd, Gabriel Duvall

The Court has jurisdiction to review state criminal proceedings (1821)

The District of Columbia authorized a lottery with licensed citizens permitted to sell tickets. The Cohen brothers, however, sold lottery tickets outside of the District in Virginia, which violated the law. Authorities convicted the Cohen brothers of breaking the law and determined that their court had the final say in the matter. When the trial was taken to the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously decided that the Court had the right to review the case because it was a state criminal proceeding. However, on March 3, 1821, Chief Justice John Marshall agreed that the lottery was a local matter and that it was suitable for the brothers to be fined. The Supreme Court affirmed in part the previous court's decision.[9]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Oliver Ellsworth
Supreme Court
Seat #1
Succeeded by:
Roger Brooke Taney