Biblioflash: Behind Marbury

The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court,
by Cliff Sloan and David McKean.

Virtually every first year student reads Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), the first Supreme Court case to strike down an act of Congress as unconstitutional. Professor Laurence H. Tribe calls Marbury the case “that made the rule of law a living part of the American legacy.” Stephen Colbert calls it the case in which the “Supreme Court sort of invested itself with power,” and calls Justice John Marshall “the original activist judge, legislating from the bench.” Although legal scholars criticize the book for being too little about the landmark case itself and its place in academic scholarship, no one criticizes The Great Decision for being anything less than an engaging page-turner about the colorful personalities and politics of Marbury’s times.

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