In todays time most lawyers are not thought of as great minds. Instead they are thought of as cheats and trouble. In 1755, in Virginia, John Marshall was born. He was distantly related to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, but they shared no similarities. The main differences between these two men were their opposing political beliefs. Thomas Jefferson believed in state sovereignty while John Marshall thought that there should be a strong centralized government. Throughout their careers, these philosophies would put them on opposite sides.
Marshall went through all of his schooling including college for a while until in 1780, when he was admitted to the bar as a lawyer. Two years after, he was sent to Richmond as a member of the House of Delegates. Here he made his home even though he still owned a farm in Fauquier County where he was born. Marshall was a skillful lawyer with honest country manners. Though his legal prowness and genial manner won him many friends in Richmond, he clearly allied himself with the political views of Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Washington and the Federalists policies they exposed. Marshalls future looked good in politics in 1800 but the federalists were sweeped from power and replaced with democratic republicans. But before Adams term was done, Marshall was appointed to Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Now that Jefferson was in the White House and Marshall in the Supreme Court it was inevitable that the two branches of government would argue. Marshall believed that the Constitution should be carried out with the intentions of its framers. Any law that violated the terms of the Constitution had no effect and it was the job of the courts to strike down any law that offended it. Jefferson did not question the authority of the courts but he also believed that the other branches of government had the right to decide Constitutional questions.
John Marshall was a resourceful man and he finally found a way to use his office to further the legal principals he believed in and strengthen the judiciary branch in the case of Marbury vs. Madison. The rule of the case was that the courts of the United States had the right to declare laws unconstitutional. It would be more than 50 years before the Supreme Court declared an act of congress unconstitutional.
John Marshall was a very skillful lawyer that proved his worth through his years of holding political offices. The case of Marbury vs. Madison is still called upon as one of the single most important cases in history decided in the Supreme Court. He believed in exactley what the Consitution said and did not let other laws effect it. Jefferson lived a long and distinguished life but never gave an inch in his differences of opinion over Marshall. He agreed that his fellow Virginian was “cunning and sophisticated. Adams called Marshalls appointment to Cheif Justice “the pride of his life.” In the controversy of John Marshall, history has come down on the side of Adams and Marshall.