In his most famous decision, Marbury vs. Madison, Marshall gave the federal judiciary the power to rule on the constitutionality of both statutory law and the behavior of the executive branch. “[T]his means that the Supreme Court granted itself the authority to declare the will of the people . . . null and void . . .” This of course has caused endless mischief and tyranny. This principle of a monopoly in reviewing constitutionality was not widely accepted, however, until after Lincoln’s war of 1861–1865 destroyed state sovereignty once and for all. Until that point, many Americans believed that the citizens of the states, as well as the president and Congress, should have equally legitimate claims on interpreting the Constitution. As President Andrew Jackson famously said, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it if he can.”
Marshall and his fellow Federalists, such as Justice Story, also paved the way for the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. This clause only grants “supremacy” to the central government on the seventeen specific functions of the central government that are delineated in Article I, Section 8, period, many of which have to do with waging war and foreign policy. This power has been grossly abused by implying that the central government is somehow “supreme” in anything and everything vis-à-vis the citizens of the states. This of course is a perfect recipe for tyranny.
Judge Napolitano recognized that it was Federalists like Joseph Story and John Marshall, and later Whig politicians like Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, who would tell The Big Lie that the Constitution was ratified by “the whole people” and not as it actually was – by the citizens of the sovereign states, with their representatives assembled in state conventions. “That was both historically incorrect and intellectually dishonest,” says Judge Napolitano.
According to this false view of the American founding the central government was always the master, not the servant, of the people. This, too, is a perfect recipe for tyranny that has been made by tyrants everywhere (Hitler even invoked this argument in Mein Kampf to make his case for destroying state sovereignty in Germany).