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The first five Chief Justices of the United States were members of the Federalist party:

  1. John Jay
  2. John Rutledge
  3. Oliver Ellsworth
  4. John Marshall
  5. Roger B. Taney

When people mention the "Federalist Chief Justice," they are most likely referring to John Marshall, because Marshall's ties to the Federalist party were relevant to the case Marbury v. Madison, (1803).

Chief Justice John Marshall was Secretary of State under Federalist President John Adams. When Adams lost the 1800 Presidential election to Democratic-Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson, he quickly nominated Marshall as Chief Justice of the United States, effective when the new administration took office.

Adams also exploited the Judiciary Act of 1801, which created 58 new federal judgeships, by appointing only members of his own party to fill those positions. Marshall's appointment, combined with the last-minute Presidential action, inadvertently gave Thomas Jefferson an opportunity to thwart Adams' plan by revoking some of his commissions. This ultimately resulted in the famous Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, (1803).


For more information about Marbury v. Madison, see Related Links, below.
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Q: Who was the Federalist Chief Justice of the United States?
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