The Washington Post
The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Courtby Cliff Sloan, David McKean
Following the bitterly contested election between Adams and Jefferson in 1800, the United States teetered on the brink of a second revolution. When Adams sought to prolong his policies in defiance of the electorate by packing the courts, it became evident that the new Constitution was limited in its powers. Change was in order and John Marshall stepped up to the challenge.
The Great Decision tells the riveting story of Marshall and of the landmark court case, Marbury v. Madison, through which he empowered the Supreme Court and transformed the idea of the separation of powers into a working blueprint for our modern state. Rich in atmospheric detail, political intrigue, and fascinating characters, The Great Decision is an illuminating tale of America’s formative years and the evolution of our democracy.
The Washington Post
Spanning the years 1801 to 1835, John Marshall's nationalist-leaning Supreme Court greatly expanded the powers of the federal government, much to the chagrin of states' rights advocate Thomas Jefferson and the Republican Party. No case exemplified that political conflict more so than the Supreme Court's 1803 decision in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison, a decision that established the court's power of judicial review. Quickly following up Lawrence Goldstone's The Activist: John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, and the Myth of Judicial Review, former Supreme Court clerk Sloan (former publisher, Slate) and top-level Senate aide McKean (Tommy the Cork) have written a lucid and compelling account of the well-known but seldom understood court battle that secured the place of the judiciary as a coordinate branch of the federal government. While William Nelson's Marbury v. Madison: The Origins and Legacy of Judicial Review more thoroughly examines the complex legal details of the case, Sloan and McKean have given generalists and academics alike a fascinating, straightforward narrative that is highly recommended for larger public and academic libraries.
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Meet the Author
Cliff Sloan is a former Supreme Court clerk. He has written about the Supreme Court for many publications, including Newsweek, The Washington Post, and Slate.
David McKean is a top-level Senate aide, a veteran political strategist, and the author of Friends in High Places and Tommy the Cork.
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