Commitment to the Constitution through Education: The John Marshall Foundation

By: George Edward Allen III, Esquire

There are a number of studies showing that many young people have very little understanding of the basic principles upon which our nation was established.   Many people, both young and old, even from Virginia, don’t know about the contributions made by Chief Justice John Marshall of Richmond.  John Marshall served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801-1835, and was one of the greatest architects of our legal system today.  He served as Chief Justice during all or part of the terms of six U.S. Presidents.    

The Allen Law Firm encourages its partners and staff to be involved in education.  In addition to the many efforts of our Firm to support education[1], it has been my personal privilege to serve for the last three years on the Board of Directors of the John Marshall Foundation.   The purpose of the Foundation[2] is to instill a renewed respect for justice, freedom, and the rule of law in America through various educational programs and efforts. 

In the United States, we tend to take our rights and freedom for granted.  These benefits did not come as an automatic result from the American Revolution.  The construction and adoption of the U.S. Constitution was only the beginning of establishing the rights we enjoy.  In the world today there are many countries that have constitutions, but their declarations of rights and freedoms for their citizens are nothing but empty words.   

Known by all scholars as the “great Chief Justice,” John Marshall is the single person who most helped to define the U.S. Constitution.  The Court was constitutionally established as a co-equal branch of government with the executive and legislative branches.  Laws that do not meet Constitutional requirements are subject for review and being struck down by the Supreme Court.  This principle was given life and substance under the guidance of John Marshall.

The John Marshall Foundation serves as the primary source for information surrounding the life, accomplishments, and lasting influence of John Marshall, who is sometimes referred to as the “forgotten founding father” of our country.  To promote its educational mission, the Foundation both provides and supports teaching programs about John Marshall which reach schools around the country, and also supports publication of materials about the life and influence of John Marshall.  To promote its mission to save and maintain physical memorabilia associated with John Marshall and to preserve his heritage, the Foundation also supports and is involved in the preservation of historic sites and artifacts relating to him.

The work of lawyers, judges, and jurors is often criticized by the media and the public without regard to careful attention to all of the facts and law involved in a certain situation.  The importance of the independence of the judiciary and a dedication to the Rule of Law — where everyone has to abide by the same rules on a fair and level playing field — is what supports Americans in their dream of justice and freedom for all and in their struggles to bring reality to that dream.   In promoting and improving the ideals of the American system of justice, we sometimes say that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.”   Chief Justice John Marshall was truly one of those giants, and deserves to be revered as such.   We at the Allen Law Firm are pleased to be part of the efforts of the John Marshall Foundation to help preserve and increase awareness of his life, his accomplishments, and the principles he promoted so strongly and effectively.   

[1]  The Allen Law Firm supports the Virginia Department of Education’s “Teacher of the Year” Program, and also has a scholarship program to help high school students in their efforts to attend college.  For more information about the Allen & Allen Scholarship Program, see

[2]  For more information about the John Marshall Foundation, see the Foundation website at