The Corner

Law & the Courts

John Marshall, the Supreme Court, and Us

The Supreme Court (Joshua Roberts / REUTERS)

Richard Brookhiser has an unusual combined life: an outstanding historian, an outstanding journalist. He is as good on the past as he is on the present. This ain’t necessarily so — but it is with Rick.

He has written on many early Americans, including George Washington, James Madison, and the Adams family (not to be confused with Morticia et al.). Now it’s John Marshall’s turn. Rick has written John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court. And I have done a Q&A podcast with him, here.

Who was John Marshall? Do you like him? What was his education? Did he have any formal education, back in those rustic times? How’d he get on the Court? Had he been a good secretary of state before that? What was his attitude toward slavery? What was his relationship with Jefferson?

And then, broadening out: What’s a conservative Supreme Court justice? What’s a liberal one? Is the Court properly called a “co-equal branch” of government? Is it properly called an apolitical one? Who are your favorite justices, past or present? Is the Supreme Court all too important now, with nominations a cause for war? (Not literal.)

These are some of the questions that Rick answers — and he’s as good a talker as he is a writer. That’s another rare thing. With Brookhiser, you could simply transcribe and publish.

A judicious mind, a genial spirit, a gift for expression — what more do you want? Again, here.

P.S. For those who like milestones, our producer, Scott Immergut, tells me that this Q&A with Rick is the 200th Q&A. My thanks to all listeners, and guests.

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