JEFFERSON CITY, MO 65101-6806
Last week's Capitol Report included the information that Marshall was named after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. Considering Marshall's importance to history, I thought we might take a quick look at his biography before we get back to Jefferson City policy next week!
Spending the extremely difficult winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, Marshall met George Washington and many other Founders who built America. He gained great admiration for Washington and a commitment to the success of the new union. This made him a Federalist, and this put him at odds with the Jeffersonians.
After Marshall's appointment to the Supreme Court in 1801, he began to shape the third branch of the federal government into the form we know today. In Marbury v Madison (1803), Marshall established the principle of judicial review, that courts could interpret the constitutionality of legislative statutes. He followed this up with Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816) establishing that the Supreme Court had the right to correct interpretations of the federal Constitution made by state courts.
In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), the Court upheld the use of the elastic clause ("Let the end be legitimate . . . and all means . . . consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional.") to establish the Bank of the United States. Marshall argued the federal government had enumerated (listed) powers within the Constitution; however, the broad necessary and proper clause (which Jefferson opposed) allowed Congress to move beyond the language to exercise other duties if these supported the enumerated powers. Finally, Marshall asserted that laws of the federal government, when correctly enacted, were superior to those of the states.
In the 1824 decision of Gibbons v. Ogden, Marshall expanded the federal government's regulation of interstate trade by the commerce clause. Because the Constitutional Convention had been convened in a large measure as a response to inadequate trade rules between and among states, Marshall held to a broad interpretation of the commerce clause (Congress has the right to regulate trade between and among states). He asserted interstate commerce does not only occur at borders, but throughout the transaction. This has become an extremely powerful instrument of federal power despite the fact that Marshall cautioned the federal government had no power in commercial transactions that occurred strictly within the boundaries of one state.
Among his many accomplishments, Marshall worked very hard to gain a consensus within the Court. He also established the procedure of issuing a majority opinion. Before this, each justice issued his own opinion (inherited from the British system).
The infant federal government found a champion in Marshall. Many more cases could be cited, but these are the essence of his contributions. Marshall proved to be a strong nationalist, and truly the father of our third branch of government. NOTE: Please join a Veterans' Day ceremony on Monday!
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working me to make Missouri a great place to live.