Maeva Marcus: Finishes 30 years work assembling a documentary history of the early Supreme Court years





... The task figured to be a challenge, but no one realized just how daunting it would be when the Supreme Court Historical Society conceived the Documentary History Project and hired Maeva Marcus, a young historian with a newly minted Ph.D., to run it.

That was 30 years ago. Ms. Marcus’s two children, who used the Supreme Court building as their weekend playground when the project was housed there in its early years, grew up to become, not surprisingly, lawyers. One, Jonathan Marcus, argues before the Supreme Court as a lawyer in the solicitor general’s office. The other, Stephanie Marcus, handles appeals in the Justice Department’s civil division.

Now Maeva Marcus and the project’s three associate editors are getting ready to close their office in the basement of the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building on Capitol Hill. The eighth and final volume of the “Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800,” has gone to press. Columbia University Press, which began publishing the project’s work in 1985, will bring out the last volume in February....

Ms. Marcus, who is president-elect of the American Society for Legal History, will next turn her attention to the Institute for Constitutional Studies, a program she started in 1999. It is now housed at George Washington University’s law school and counts Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg among its academic advisers.

Among its activities, the institute brings young scholars to Washington for seminars on constitutional history. In other words, it may give a new generation the equipment and desire to uncover some of the mysteries that, even after 30 years, still remain.

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