John Marshall, Supreme Court, Thomas Jefferson discussed on Lars Larson
Back to the LARs Larson show. It is a pleasure to be with you and a special pleasure to speak with Richard Brooke is from national review, the author of many other biographies that you should read. But the one most late the most most recent one is John Marshall the man who made the supreme court. So here's John Marshall appointed to the supreme court as chief Justice by the lame duck president John Adams as he's leaving office and Thomas Jefferson is coming in. What was he real as reluctant to take on that post as he had been to take on running for congress at the behest of George Washington, his hero. Well, you know, I think he saw he saw the importance of the political moment. But the federalist party had just been shellacked. The election of eighteen hundred was a Blue Wave Jefferson and his party. They had taken the White House. They had flipped both houses of congress. The. The only branch of the federal government in which federalists still prevailed was the judiciary. Because that's who all the judges were. They'd all been appointed by Washington or Adams, so Marshall saw this as a very important job to have politically. And he's also, you know, he's been a lawyer all his adult life, and I think he's confident in his legal abilities and legal opinions. So I think he he probably took the on in the spirit of the soldier. He had been during the revolution. Here's my. Here's my new set of orders. Let me go. Do this job. Now, he did he see in the supreme court something that truly would be made into something. Great. And not as John J side is this this place with no dignity, and no wait and no consequence because these days, you know, how Americans view this the announcement of a new supreme court decision on virtually anything is is viewed as as extraordinarily consequential. And and something that is effectively lifelong meaning when they make a decision because of starry decisive. You're you're probably going to be stuck with that decision in that interpretation of the constitution for at least several decades before it will be looked at again these days. Right. Well, one change that Marshall makes mmediately in the first ten or eleven years. So the supreme court justices gave their opinions on a case one after another call Syria. Oh, the first Justice would read his opinion on the second would read his you'd go through the whole court. The Marshall court began to give opinions of the court usually read by the chief Justice sometimes read by other justices, and these were often unanimous opinions now justices were perfectly free to give either currencies or descents that could currencies when they agree with the majority opinion, but they've got a slightly different take. So they you know, they they give a concurrence or if they disagree with it. They they give a descent, and so those still happened -cational. But for the most part, you're getting unanimous opinions many in some delivered by the chief Justice himself, and this imparts a kind of a wait to the whole court. It's not just a collect. It's makes it seem like it's not just a collection of individuals. It's a unified body. Giving a collective opinion on the law. The other justices object to this particular method of doing it. They realized that it would give their opinions more weight. There was one Jefferson appointee. William Johnson who who is kind of uneasy with this for many years, and at the end of of the end of his life. Marshall flight he begins to descend more frequently. But for the bulk of his time on the court. He goes along with this. And he has an interesting correspondence with Thomas Jefferson in the early eighteen twenty s this is almost twenty years into his own time on the court, and he explains to Jefferson how this process worked. He said when I first got on the court. I thought I'd give my own opinion. But then I just got lectures from all the other judges telling me, you know, if we were sniping at each other this this makes all of us, look bad. You know, you shouldn't do this. How accurate is this description? I mean, he's telling it to Jefferson who doesn't like the court periods. So maybe he's trying to tailor it to please his correspondent. But you know, certainly he had felt pressure to go along with his brother justices, and for the most part he done it. So. And I think this is a result of of Marshall's great skill and what you might call small P politics. You know, how to manage your colleagues how how to lead your colleagues, and he does it by being genial? I mean, that's just who he is. He everybody seems to like this guy, Thomas Jefferson, and he likes everybody. He does it by being deferential. If if there's some Justice who's more expert in a particular field of law. He will let that man do the decision let that now take the lead. And then of course, when you do that you get deference in return, then the third thing assistance quality of his mind, this intelligence that he had and it just impressed. His fellow justices. That impressed the lawyers who argued before him, and you know, you put all that together. And then you add in the fact that he just stays there year after year and. It it builds up this internal mystique of the court, which which is also public mystique people begin to to see it as this impressive body that we have to pay attention to the book. I'm speaking Richard Brooke Heiser, it's author about is John Marshall demand who made the supreme court. So Marshall is on the court for thirty years. This is a four thirty four still a record for chief Justice. It is an and well with longer lifetimes, these days view, suppose, we'll ever see that record eclipsed. Well, John roberts's pretty young. There have been a couple justices who've been on the court longer than Marshall. But but no chief Justice of all the cases he held you described them as dramatic cases England included involving businessman in scoundrels, a native Americans and slaves. What was the one that stood out to you? Well, they were so many of them were were interesting one that was both interesting back story and very consequential. What's your veep tack? In eighteen ten and this was a case about a land sale by the state of Georgia, Georgia sold off thirty million acres for a penny and a half an acre. This is what's now. The states of Alabama Mississippi Georgia was very poor state was the only way they could raise money. Now, the problem is every single legislator in the Georgia legislature had been bribed to make this sale happen. The going price was a thousand dollars a vote one guy took only six hundred dollars and he explained I wasn't greedy. You know, the people of Georgia got upset about this and elected a whole new crop of representatives. And then they passed a repeal act saying, Nope, we take this sale back, and we're going to forbid it from ever coming before. Georgia court anyone in a court in this state who treats this actors having been real will be fine two thousand dollars. So they're repealing it and squelching litigation in Georgia. You can read the history of all of it in John Marshall, the man who made the supreme court is author is Richard Brooke Heiser, Mr. is have been more than generous with your time. And thank you so much for this. And for all that you do for national review as well. Thank you for the time today. Okay. Thank you for having. It is a pleasure to have you on. You're listening to the LARs Larson show. Laursen show. This is FOX on Justice. There are five justices.