Virginia, Kentucky, and the Complex Politics of Early Republican Federalism
This chapter discusses how Chief Justice Marshall anticipated that questions might arise as to why he ventured so far beyond the minimum rationale necessary to support the Court's finding that the Illinois and Wabash purchases were invalid. To forestall such inquiry, he attributed the “degree of attention” that he “ bestowed upon this subject” to “the magnitude of the interest in litigation, and the able and elaborate arguments” advanced by Harper, Webster, Winder, and Murray. It is argued that Marshall's true motives were mixed. Like others of his generation, his interests were not entirely divorced from his politics. His decision in Johnson reflected his institutional concern for the power of the Supreme Court and his personal concern to secure land grants to Revolutionary War soldiers.
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