How the Supreme Court Expanded Its Power Under Justice John Marshall

When John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1801, the country’s highest court occupied a modest position. There was no Supreme Court building in the newly completed capital of Washington, DC, so the six justices heard the cases in a borrowed room in the basement of the Capitol building. Their file had an average of 10 cases per year, mainly maritime disputes.

“Before John Marshall, the Supreme Court was irrelevant,” says Joel Richard Paul, professor of law at the University of California, Hastings School of Law and author of Unprecedented: Chief Justice John Marshall and his time.

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