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History of the Supreme Court (part 1): The Least Dangerous Branch?

Eric Daniels

Presented at: OCON 2011

Date: Jul 02, 2011

Alexander Hamilton famously described the judiciary as the “least dangerous” branch of government. Most Founding Fathers viewed the Supreme Court as a great bulwark of liberty against encroachments of power. The Supreme Court, however, has not always fully protected liberty, and has at times been openly antagonistic to it.

This course, the first in a series, surveys the broad history of the Supreme Court in the United States from its creation in 1789 to the infamous Dred Scott decision. It illustrates how the judiciary has functioned in our republic, and examines how it might have functioned better. By explaining the dominant trends in the Supreme Court, its characteristic mode of reasoning and interpretation, and the major results during each period, this course illuminates the importance of the Court in American life.


Parts: 3

Handout: none