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Special Contribution


In awesome solemnity, Chief Justice John Marshall thundered in 1803, "[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Marshall's historic declaration has borne both lavish praise and unstinting criticism, and it serves as the commonly understood sentiment underlying the legal order of our country. At both federal and state levels, the "judicial department" rules our daily lives by virtue of saying "what the law is."

At the state level, constitutions and statutes typically establish a judicial branch of government and populate that branch with all manner of courts-local, trial, and appellate. Those courts apply and interpret statutory strictures and common law principles, ultimately resolving the rights and obligations of both government and individual.