Home History On This Day: John Marshall’s Controversial Rise to Chief Justice

On This Day: John Marshall’s Controversial Rise to Chief Justice

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On January 31, 1801, John Marshall (1755-1835) received his commission as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Senate having given its “advice and consent” four days earlier.

As a lame duck appointment by a controversial administration, Marshall began under a cloud of hostility. But his landmark decisions earned new dignity for the Supreme Court and injected new energy to the federal government in defining its role vis-à-vis state authority.

His 34 years as chief justice (the longest of any) far exceeded the average 16-year tenure of those associate justices he joined on the bench.

Hon. Ronald A. Sarasin, President, United States Capitol Historical Society

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