The fabric, from which America is fashioned, was ingrained with a respect for the rule of law. Without that respect, which is embedded in understanding the principles of justice as defined in the Constitution, our freedoms, liberty, and country are at risk.
America is a living experiment in representative democracy. It has survived, no – thrived — against all odds. Each generation of Americans holds the responsibility for telling the next generation about the importance of remaining vigilant against those who would attack our dream of justice and freedom for all.
Erosion of knowledge, that slow but insidious eating away at the fabric of our principles, is the most dangerous attack we face. Our best defense against this attack is education. Only when those who enjoy freedom understand the principles upon which it rests will freedom endure.
Teaching the Law
The laws of the land, that wide-ranging set of rules by which we all live, are the backbone of our representative democracy. The challenge we face is educating this and future generations of the history and importance of these laws and by doing so build a common respect for them.
Bringing the history and importance of law in America to the students of today is a difficult task, but it is one we must not fail to accomplish if our country is to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The basis for law in America is the U.S. Constitution. This revolutionary document is the instrument by which the continued existence of the government of the United States is assured.
We are fortunate in having John Marshall as the perfect guide for our Judicial Journey. Marshall established the Constitution as the supreme law of the land during his 34 years as Chief Justice of the United States. This towering figure will play the central role as we explain how our laws are made and how they work to protect our nation and her citizens.
Four years after winning independence from Great Britain, the United States of America adopted the Constitution. This revolutionary document became the instrument by which our government strove to preserve a young republic. The beginning was shaky. There was no one, no group, that had the position, respect and power to interpret the Constitution.
Disagreements ensued among political rivals and among the States. The future of this experiment in liberty was at risk. It took Chief Justice John Marshall to establish the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and bring balance to the government.
John Marshall’s life reads like a retelling of early American history. He was born in the wilderness of Virginia, was largely home schooled, fought in the Revolution, spent the winter with George Washington at Valley Forge, served in the Virginia House of Delegates, persuaded the Virginian Convention to vote for Ratification of the Constitution, served in the U.S. Congress, was named Secretary of State by John Adams, wrote the first biography of George Washington, and was The Chief Justice of the United States for 34 years.
During his tenure as Chief Justice, John Marshall’s efforts to raise the stature of the Supreme Court and Judicial Branch to their rightful place as a co-equal branch of government along with the Executive and the Legislative branches were successful. This endeavor rectified a misalignment of governmental powers, filled a vacuum in setting supreme law, and permitted the Constitution to function as intended. Chief Justice Marshall’s pursuits assured the continued existence of the government of the United States protecting the freedoms we so cherish.
- The Supreme Court declares that the Constitution is to be considered “higher law” that is superior to the “ordinary” laws of Congress or the decisions of the President.
- The Supreme Court declares that it has a duty and a responsibility to interpret the Constitution.
- The practice of judicial review by the United States Supreme Court over acts of the government is firmly established.
- Supreme Court Justices are to be insulated from politics. They are agents of the law whose ultimate responsibility is to uphold the Constitution without regard to political pressures.
- The Supreme Court has the power to declare state laws unconstitutional.
- The U.S. Congress could pass laws that were “necessary and proper” to permit the Federal Government to carry out its duties provided under the Constitution.
- It was the people who made the Constitution, not the individual states.
- The people intended for the Federal Government to be supreme over the states within the sphere of its constitutionally mandated duties and powers.
- Any valid contract signed in one state must be respected by all states.
- Congress has the power to make laws about subjects that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but are instead implied.
- Congress has the “full and unobstructed” power to regulate interstate commerce.
- “The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations.” – John Marshall
These decisions resulted in the following achievements of the Marshall Court:
- The Constitution was established as “Fundamental Law.”
- The Supreme Court positioned itself as the guardian of the Constitution and its Interpreter.
- The principal of Judicial Review of the Legislative and Executive branches by the Supreme Court was accepted.
- The Judiciary became co-equal Branch with the Executive and Legislative Branches.
- The supremacy of Federal Law over State Law was established.
- The Rule of Law and the Sanctity of Contracts were strengthened.
- The Supreme Court acquired a reservoir of good will and moral capital with the people who recognized that the Supreme Court was an impartial protector of their rights and liberties.
Increase the knowledge and appreciation of and respect for the rule of law.
Increase awareness of the Constitution as the law of the land and John Marshall’s role in defining the Constitution and its place in assuring our freedoms.
Increase the appreciation of the Virginia Constitutional Founders by means of The Virginia Constitutional Trail — John Marshall – John Marshall House, George Washington – Mount Vernon, James Madison – Montpelier, George Mason — Gunston Hall, Thomas Jefferson – Monticello, Patrick Henry – St. John’s Church and the Virginia State Capitol.
Educate this and future generations about the achievements and impact John Marshall had on the fledgling democracy born here in America.
Instill greater patriotism among Americans.
What Is Expected
As with any large scale campaign, we must adhere to a set of rules in order to retain the message we are creating.
- REACH ACROSS AMERICA – Create a broad-shouldered educational program that is technology rich and utilizes multiplier-learning tools to reach audiences across America and the world.
- HIGHEST STANDARDS – Create programs, learning tools, web tools… to the highest standard of production, historical content and creative merit.
- ENGAGING MESSAGES – Create messages that will be told with interest and intrigue so audiences are not only educated but also engaged.
- CONSISTENCY – Promote consistency and adherence to the highest standards in all our programs.
Tools and Materials
In order to spread our message to the nation, we must produce, with the help of your donation, numerous educational tools and materials.
- Educational Website
The Internet is the perfect educational tool to reach national and global audiences. Create a site which will send messages, tell stories, relate history, raise awareness, build audiences, send ideas, create interchange, contain videos, create dialogue, exchange concepts, launch programs, distribute teaching tools, open doors and open minds.
- Video Programs
Create multimedia videos that tell the intriguing story of the requirement for the rule of law to assure the success of the Constitution and our liberties. Also create videos about how our fledgling democracy in the United States of America was floundering and nearly failed before John Marshall took on the daunting task of defining what the Constitution meant. Relate the story of how Marshall single-handedly rescued the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government from obscurity, instilled respect for the supreme law of the land and defined the tripartite system of government.Tell about the importance of those actions and the resulting freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution. Show how the Constitution has been and continues to be a beacon, a model, for new countries to use as each strives for a government for the people. This series of videos will exist as multiple educational tools by becoming down-loadable programs on our website, playable DVDs for direct distribution, and content for television outlets from the History Channel to Educational TV to PBS.
- Searchable Historical Clips
Create multimedia video clips utilizing the production files from the videos along with necessary additional materials. These clips would be subject driven and searchable. They would be designed to answer questions about the rule of law, the Constitution, its creation, ratification, defining and impact on American history and the life of John Marshall.
- Public Relations
Build awareness of who we are and what we do through a coordinated Public Relations Program. This effort will lead people to us and expands both their and our horizons. Educational tools such as websites and video programs are only valuable if they are accessed and utilized. We will create an interlinked public relations campaign that utilizes electronic and print outlets to let the world know… we are here.
- Study Guides
Write and design Study Guides to follow our video programs and align to national learning standards. Produce them to help maximize their use in school systems across America. Student study guides will also be produced to aid students in their pursuit of knowledge. All of these guides will follow our goal of creating engaging historically accurate materials.
- Study Guides
Become a font of historical information surrounding the Constitution, John Marshall, constitutional governments worldwide, and early American history.
- Education Links
Search for and link to other websites so the flow of information can spread to larger audiences.
- Educational Interactive Games
Build a Judicial Journey game that allows players to create their own government. Learn by immersion simulations about the trials, tribulations, and responsibilities of being free.
- Educational Quizes
Create educational quizzes as teaching tools appealing to our audiences that range from young students to scholars. Quizzes will cover: Law and the rule of law, Early American history, Constitutional history, John Marshall’s life, both governmental and personal, History of the impact of the Constitution worldwide.
- Multilingual Tools
Wherever practical, translate tools for utilization by wider audiences.
- Historic Content
Create a John Marshall Historical Content Committee to assure accuracy in all we do.
- Central Calendar
Create a central calendar on our website for the posting of events that support our objectives.
- This list, like education itself, will continue to grow.