Congress, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court
An American citizen will never understand the form of government under which he is living, unless he understands why we must have a Supreme Court. And he will never understand why we must have a Supreme Court, until he understand the form of government under which he is living.
This declaration at the beginning of his 1925 book Congress, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court leaves no doubt about the importance Charles Warren (1868-1954) attaches to his subject. The Supreme Court in the United States History, a multivolume work, had amply demonstrated Warren’s credentials in this area and brought him, in 1923, a Pulitzer Prize.
Warren invites his readers to learn about “the history of that part of the Federal Constitution which deals with the Supreme Court in its relation to Acts of Congress” and about the history of state constitutions. He tells us what early Congresses thought about the Court’s powers, how the Court came to have authority over Congress when the latter was seen to overstep constitutional limits, and the role played by founders’ reactions to the British system. The final chapter reviews the fifty-three decisions of the Court that declared, from 1789 to 1924 and beginning with Marbury v. Madison, Acts of Congress to be unconstitutional.