From the movie’s title itself, one can easily predict that the film is about US Supreme Court– which is the highest court within the jurisdiction’s court system and whose rulings are not subject to further review. The film can also be considered documentary since it document reality as it focuses towards the innovation of the Supreme court through the brink of the Civil War in the United States, paying attention to the fourth chief justice of the US Supreme Court, John Marshall, and to his successor, Roger Taney.
It also explores Americans’ part of history, culture and society since the setting is during Civil War when the concept of slavery and discrimination are widely applied. This documentary movie apparently gives educational advantage especially to the younger generation of American people. Supreme Court is subtly part of peoples’ daily existence. Their monumental decisions govern their everyday lives in terms of social interactions or even their sense of privacy in their own house.
The implemented laws and other workings of the court has been the pillars of American democracy. The documentary film, aside from providing the biography and experiences of two chief justices, humanizes the enigmatic black robed figures that seem emotionless in court, revealing their temperaments, struggles, rationalities, deeply held personal beliefs and life stories. Furthermore, the documentary film explores how court inevitably separate church since there are moral standards that sometimes opposes each other.
Meanwhile, the story also illustrates some big and dramatic stories, as well as controversial rulings that impact all Americans not just right after the implementation but even at present . The leadership of John Marshall made the Supreme Court the nation’s center of power after affirming Supreme Court’s judicial power. John Marshall holds one of the most significant decisions in the history of American court. In the Marbury v. Madison case in 1804, John Marshall argues that the Supreme Court ought to have the authority to determine the constitutionality of laws which come before the court.
Since the judges must apply the laws to particular cases, they must necessarily “expound and interpret” those laws. Therefore Marshall wants to give the judges exclusive power of constitutional interpretation (Randolph 24) . This case presented by Marshall has been successful. They gained the power for judicial review that gave “federal courts the right to strike down laws that clashed with the Constitution” (Randolph 25). But never did Marshall know that in the next term, the implementation of Marbury v.
Madison case can be of a great disadvantage. Roger Taney the next chief justice exercise the same power. He declared that black community or the African- Americans have no rights under the US Constitution since he believes that African Americans are “of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race” (Scog 30). Many, especially those opponents of slavery and the supporters of equal human rights, condemned Taney. He was initially an slave owner and his perspective towards slavery affected his constitutional interpretations.
The national government at that time wants to protect slavery and racial discrimination but Taney made another decision– a decision that no one has enough power to control since his decision is within his exclusive power as Supreme Court chief justice. But this decision and executive authority eventually divides the US Country that somehow encourage Civil War. In the film, one can think that after Supreme Court gained a superior power in enacting laws and making decisions within the nation, what would be the say of the church?
It is inevitable to ask this question since Christian religion dominates the body in establishing power to set of people. But Marshall’s decision, though it did not directly affected the church was the beginning of the deliberate separation of church and state. In history church greatly influence the decisions of the nation and they even hold a big responsibility in the government. The slogan “One Nation Under God” has been change to “One Nation Under Law”. Work Cited: Randolph, Ryan. Marbury V. Madison: The New Supreme Court Gets More Power. The Rose New York, USA. Publishing Group, 2003