The Marshall Court (1801–35)


Which justice is often referred to as the “first great dissenter?”

Justice William Johnson, President Thomas Jefferson’s first appointment to the Court, is called the Court’s “first great dissenter,” or first dissenter, because he was the first justice to disagree with opinions issued by Chief Justice Marshall. He founded the practice of filing dissenting opinions. Johnson filed thirty-four dissents during his more than thirty years on the Court. While this seems minor by today’s standards, the commanding practice of the Marshall Court was unanimity.


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