This new edition of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s classic book offers a lively and accessible history of the Supreme Court. His engaging writing illuminates both the high and low points in the Court's history, from Chief Justice Marshall’s dominance of the Court during the early nineteenth century through the landmark decisions of the Warren Court. Citing cases such as the Dred Scott decision and Roosevelt's Court-packing plan, Rehnquist makes clear that the Court does not operate in a vacuum, that the justices are unavoidably influenced by their surroundings, and that their decisions have real and lasting impacts on our society.
The public often hears little about the Supreme Court until decisions are handed down. Here, Rehnquist reveals its inner workings--the process by which cases are chosen, the nature of the conferences where decisions are made, and the type of debates that take place. With grace and wit, this incisive history gives a dynamic and informative account of the most powerful court in the nation and how it has shaped the direction America has taken.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Supreme Court|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Supreme Court|
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The Supreme Court
Chapter OneMarbury v. Madison
One need understand only a few of its cases to understand the Supreme Court's role in our nation's history. But one must assuredly understand the case of Marbury v. Madison. This case established the authority of the federal courts to declare a law passed by Congress unconstitutional and therefore void. The vitally important legal principle of the case can be condensed into a sentence or two, and the justification for the doctrine espoused by Chief Justice John Marshall in his opinion for the Court can be comprehended in a page or two. But like so many abstractions standing alone, these tend to go in one ear and out the other when people have no regular need to repair to such doctrine. I think that a fuller understanding of the doctrine itself may be gained by a knowledge not only of the facts of the case but also of the historical setting.
Those who have seen the city of Washington in the early part of the twenty-first century, firmly ensconced as a metropolis of four million at the southern end of the eastern "urban corridor" of the United States, may have difficulty envisioning the city as it existed in 1803, the year the Supreme Court decided the case of Marbury v. Madison. The Constitution adopted by the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 had provided for the creation of a "district" not exceeding ten miles square to become "the seat of the Government of the United States," but it had left the location of that district to Congress. Congress decided that the site of the government should be moved from New York to Philadelphia in December 1790, and ten years later that it should be moved again to the District of Co...