Campaigns and the Court: The U.S. Supreme Court in Presidential Elections

By Donald Crier Stephenson Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Election of 1832: Partisanship Revived

As the previous chapter explained, the federal judiciary’s first major partisan entanglement coincided with events surrounding the election of 1800 and the beginning of John Marshall’s tenure as chief justice. Its second major partisan entanglement culminated in the election of 1832, near the end of Marshall’s long Supreme Court tenure. In place of Thomas Jefferson as Marshall’s chief antagonist stood Andrew Jackson. At stake was no less than the definition of American constitutional government. If the federal judiciary made political difficulties for itself in 1798–1800 by being perceived as insufficiently attuned to individual liberty and to judicial independence, it was now perceived as being insufficiently attuned to the prerogatives of state governments and excessively independent of changing political winds.

The setting for this turmoil was the metamorphosis of the first party system into the second. The result was a reopening of the question of the Court’s place in the political system and a modification in constitutional interpretation.


ORIGINS OF THE SECOND PARTY SYSTEM

Some of the first evidence of the decline of party distinctions surfaced in Congress after the War of 1812 demonstrated a need for energetic national policies.1 In 1816 Congress responded to President James Madison’s recommendations and chartered the second Bank of the United States, passed a major tariff act, and decreed that revenues derived from the bank be spent on the construction of new roads and canals. All three measures flew in the face of Jeffersonian orthodoxy,2 but only the third failed to become law:

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