JOHN MARSHALL, DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION by Francis M. Stiles

JOHN MARSHALL, DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Surely, Marbury v. Madison is the most famous of Supreme Court cases. Every student knows--or should know--that this case established the principle of judicial review, and thus the author of its decision stands as the virtual ""father"" of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, San Diego State University historian Stites doesn't get us much further than this simple rote history. He does touch on a lot of important issues that could bear much attention: the role of the Court in establishing federal control over interstate commerce and facilitating the American economy's period of ""primitive accumulation""; Marshall's Federalist Leanings and compatibility with Hamilton's vision of a commercial state; the stifling of local and regional political movements (like the ""Regulation"") and imposition o[ centralized power; the Court's reluctance and inability to deal with slavery. But Stites confines himself to brief mentions, preferring to amble along in a simple narrative extolling the virtues of hero Marshall, ""defender of the Constitution."" So we follow Marshall through his boyhood in Virginia, Revolutionary War experiences, legal career, political career (which included the Congress as well as a stint as Secretary of State), and onto the Court. Stites then recites the 30-year procession of cases that followed, hewing to the line that Marshall was always right. Without any genuine historical underpinning, it's hard to tell.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1980
Publisher: Little, Brown