The Doctrine of Judicial Review

The Doctrine of Judicial Review

Its Legal and Historical Basis and Other Essays

Library of Liberal Thought

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-5370-5
Pages: 172
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 05-14-2014
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This book, first published in 1914, contains five historical essays. Three of them are on the concept of judicial review, which is defined as the power of a court to review and invalidate unlawful acts by the legislative and executive branches of government. One chapter addresses the historical controversy over states’ rights. Another concerns the Pelatiah Webster Myth—the notion that the US Constitution was the work of a single person.

In "Marbury v. Madison and the Doctrine of Judicial Review," Edward S. Corwin analyzes the legal source of the power of the Supreme Court to review acts of Congress. "We, the People" examines the rights of states in relation to secession and nullification. "The Pelatiah Webster Myth" demolishes Hannis Taylor’s thesis that Webster was the "secret" author of the constitution. "The Dred Scott Decision" considers Chief Justice Taney’s argument concerning Scott’s title to citizenship under the Constitution. "Some Possibilities in the Way of Treaty-Making" discusses how the US Constitution relates to international treaties.

Matthew J. Franck’s new introduction to this centennial edition situates Corwin’s career in the history of judicial review both as a concept and as a political reality.

Editorial Reviews

“Professor Corwin’s method of discussing legal problems is a happy combination of logical analysis and the appeal to history.”

—Thomas Reed Powell, Columbia Law Review

“[This book] is a historical research into the power of courts to disregard and declare of no effect acts passed by legislatures in excess of their constitutional authority. . . . We commend the book to all who may be interested in the history of one of the most important powers of the United States Supreme Court.”

—H. W. A., Yale Law Journal

“This volume consists of five essays. . . obviously interesting to lawyers; but the volume is not peculiarly addressed to them, for, as the author is a professor of history, the point of view is historical and not legal.”

Harvard Law Review

“The discussions are interesting and readable.”

—H. W. B., University of Pennsylvania Law Review and American Law Register

“At a time when the American public is beginning to show impatience with a judicial assumption almost unknown in other constitutionally-governed countries, this exposition has especial interest. . . . The purpose of the book is to answer the question, ‘What is the exact legal basis of the power of the supreme court to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress?’ Dr. Corwin is not satisfied with what were merely the hopes of the framers, but seeks what they understood to be incorporated in the constitution for the purpose of establishing judicial review. . . . [Corwin] is driven to the conclusion that judicial review was rested by the framers ‘upon certain general principles which in their estimation made specific provision for it unnecessary.’”

—Charles H. Maxson, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

“[T]he. . . convincing portions of his work in this book and others are those in which he, taking a somewhat larger view of cases, and bringing to bear upon them his wide historical knowledge, reaches conclusions which evidently are going into the formation of a strong and able presentation of a nationalistic theory of our government and its constitutional law.”

—H. M. B., Michigan Law Review

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition: Edward S. Corwin and the Emergence of “Judicial Review,” Matthew J. Franck


    1     Marbury v. Madison and the Doctrine of Judicial Review
    2     “We, The People”
    3     The Pelatiah Webster Myth
    4     The Dred Scott Decision
    5     Some Possibilities in the Way of Treaty-Making