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MARBURY vs. MADISON

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                John Marshall

On February 24th, 1803, in a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled against William Marbury on the grounds that his claim was unconstitutional. This was the first time the Supreme Court had made a decision on such a basis and established the concept of judicial review in the United States. Specifically it empowered the Supreme Court to oversee, and if necessary, nullify the actions of the other two branches of government, making the court the final arbiter on what was constitutional and what was not.

The Marbury vs. Madison case dated back to 1801 and John Adams’ last hours in office as President. Before vacating the White House to his successor Thomas Jefferson – and also not attending his inauguration – Adams appointed 16 circuit court judges and 42 justices of the peace – all Federalists. (Jefferson and the majority of the incoming Congress were known then as Democratic-Republicans.) Adams then handed these appointments to his Secretary of State, and soon to be Chief Justice, John Marshall, who was then to have these documents delivered personally to the appointees.

This was a highly politically contentious time. The 1800 Presidential election had not been decided until February 17th, 1801 – Jefferson and Aaron Burr had tied in the Electoral College. So although Adams had every right to make his appointments - based on the Judiciary Act of 1801 and passed by the outgoing lame-duck Congress – his actions were viewed by his opponents as politically stacking the courts and the appointees were labeled the “Midnight Judges”. Although most of the commissions were delivered, William Marbury never received his; not such an incredible circumstance considering the distances that needed to be traveled on horseback for such deliveries.

Incoming Secretary of State James Madison finding Marbury’s commission undelivered simply held on to it – per President Jefferson’s instructions. Without the paperwork Marbury could not assume the position of Justice of the Peace of the District of Columbia. So Marbury, being an attorney and hoping to further advance his legal career, requested a writ of mandamus, and thus force Madison to make his appointment official.

Almost two years later, now Chief Justice John Marshall and his peers ruled unanimously against Mr. Marbury, i.e. he never got the job and robe. First the court chastised both Jefferson and Madison for withholding Marbury’s commission; more or less irrelevant to the case, but Marshall and Jefferson loathed one another – ironically the two were cousins - and the Chief Justice couldn’t resist the opportunity to wag his finger.

Second, the court ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1801, under which Marbury had been appointed, was unconstitutional because it had been supplanted by the Judiciary Act of 1802, which operated under the original dictates of the Judiciary Act of 1789 with the original number of judges. (Confusing enough for you? Bottom line – there was no dispute because there was no vacancy and therefore no job. Damn lawyers.) The historical take-away here is that John Marshall and his Court set the precedent that the Supreme Court with judicial review was the final judge of “constitutionality”.



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Comedy Clips of the Week

KEVIN SPACEY

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Producer, director, screenwriter and Oscar award winning actor Kevin Spacey Fowler was born on July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey. He has starred in such movies as The Usual Suspects, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty. One of his many talents is uncanny impersonations of famous people. The clip below is from Inside the Actors Studio as he runs through his repertoire for James Lipton. Highly entertaining and what a mind Mr. Spacey has.

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HERMAN CAIN IS A VERY FUNNY FELLOW….RIGHT!

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If nothing else Mr. Cain has a future in improvisational/sketch comedy.

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Sports

JESSE OWENS

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On August 3rd, 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100 meter sprint in the Summer Olympics held in Berlin. This was the first of his four Gold Medals, which included the Long Jump, 200 meter sprint and as a member of the 4x 100 meter relay team. A record that wasn’t equaled until Carl Lewis did it in 1984.

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JOHNNY EVERS

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Second baseman John Joseph Evers was born on July 21st, 1883.  Known as “The Crab” for his style of play in the field, Evers is also remembered as one of the smaller players to make it in the major leagues, weighing in at 100 lbs as a rookie and never topping out at more than 130 lbs during his career.

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Classic Movies

UNFORGIVEN

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Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Jaimz Woolvett and Saul Rubinek, the film Unforgiven premiered on August 7th, 1993. So often with classic movies the plot here is a simple one, an aging and retired Old West outlaw/gunslinger takes on one more “job” to avenge the brutal beating and disfigurement of a prostitute.

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HANG ‘EM HIGH

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Directed by Ted Post and starring Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley and Pat Hingle, the film Hang ‘Em High premiered on August 3rd, 1968. Fresh from filming the Dollars Trilogy with Sergio Leone in Europe and known to the American TV viewing public from his time on Rawhide, Clint made this movie – which really wasn’t much of a stretch. Playing a man wrongfully lynched – he’s rescued by a US Marshall just in the nick of time – Eastwood goes to work for the “local” judge, (Hingle), as a Marshall with the goal of “finding” the men who strung him up. This theme of frontier revenge/justice one that Clint would “revisit” several more times in his career. In this movie we meet Alan Hale, Jr. – the skipper from Gilligan’s Island – and a young Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper. And even this early in his career Eastwood had an eye on the future; this movie was the first to be produced by Eastwood’s Malpaso Company.

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Music

LOUIS ARMSTRONG

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One of the founders of jazz; musician, singer, entertainer, and trumpeter extraordinaire, Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Much has been written and said about “Satchmo” – genius, friend to many but close to few, comical, optimistic – whatever – to appreciate the man and his legacy listen to his music. Louis Armstrong was one of a kind.

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ADAM DURITZ

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Lead singer and founding member of The Counting Crows, Adam Duritz was born on August 1st, 1964 in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of two Jewish doctors Adam admits he is “impersonating African-Jamaican”, starting with the dreadlock hair extensions. In articles I’ve read Adam described as morose, tortured, melancholy and pretentious. And maybe he is. All I know is that when he and his band mates get together and make music something happens and it’s a good thing. The Counting Crows are still one of the best bands to see live for my money.

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Political Clips

HUNTER S. THOMPSON

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Hunter S. Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, counter-culturalist, iconoclast, and someone who seemingly took Richard Nixon’s existence on this earth personally, was born on July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, it was his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that combined all that made Thompson either loved or reviled – Drugs, alcohol, guns and contempt for authority – as the protagonist and his attorney make their way through Sin City. His follow up book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail ‘72, tracked that year’s Presidential election and Thompson’s ever growing hatred of President Nixon.

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NOT THAT JOE WALSH …THE CRAZY ONE

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I’ve mentioned our local (Illinois) collective Congressional embarrassment before –

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Crime

WILD BILL HICKOK

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On August 2nd, 1876, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, located in the Dakota Territory. Prior to his final stop in Deadwood, he’d been a Union soldier during the Civil War, specifically as a scout and a marksman. After the war he became a stagecoach driver and then a lawman in Nebraska and Kansas. After turning in his badge Hickcok had toured the East with Buffalo Bill and after giving an interview with Harper’s magazine was now famous as a gunslinger – Wild Bill claiming that he had killed at least 100 men. If the number seems preposterous, it should be noted no one argued with Hickok’s claim.

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PUBLIC ENEMY #1

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On the very warm Chicago evening of July 22, 1934, John Dillinger exited the Biograph Theater after watching “Manhattan Melodrama”, (a gangster movie), starring Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy. With Dillinger was his new girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and her “landlady” Anna Sage—“The Lady in Red”—who was actually clad in orange that evening.

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