The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court

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The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court

Author: Cliff Sloan
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 288
Cover Price: $ 26.95

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In 1800, the United States teetered on the brink of a second revolution. The presidential election between Adams and Jefferson was a bitterly contested tie, and the government neared collapse. The Supreme Court had no clear purpose or power—no one had even thought to build it a courtroom in the new capital city. When Adams sought to prolong his policies in defiance of the electorate by packing the courts, the fine words of the new Constitution could do nothing to stop him. It would take a man to make those words good, and America found him in John Marshall. The Great Decision tells the riveting story of Marshall and of the landmark court case, Marbury v. Madison, through which he empowered the Supreme Court and transformed the idea of the separation of powers into a working blueprint for our modern state. Rich in atmospheric detail, political intrigue, and fascinating characters, The Great Decision is an illuminating tale of America’s formative years and of the evolution of our democracy.

Background Information

The election of 1800 resulted in the election of the Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson, sympathetic to France and hostile to aristocracy. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the country, and judges the actions of citizens and governments alike on the basis of the Constitution. John Marshall served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court longer than anyone else and authored the decisions that established the court's primacy on constitutional questions.