After spending half a column berating prior federal interventions into state matters but justifying the conservatives’ politicization of the Terri Schiavo case, conservative columnist Ann Coulter instructs Florida Governor Jeb Bush to ignore “the illiterate ramblings of a state judiciary.” She supports her advice by providing him with this precedent:
President Andrew Jackson is supposed to have said of a Supreme Court ruling he opposed: “Well, John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” The court’s ruling was ignored. And yet, somehow, the republic survived.
What was the context in which President Andrew Jackson uttered those famous words to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall?
In 1832 the Cherokee Indian tribe lived on land guaranteed them by treaty. They found gold on that land. Georgia tried to seize the land. The Cherokees sued. And eventually the Supreme Court, in Worcester v. Georgia, held in favor of the Cherokees. Georgia then refused to obey the Court. President Andrew Jackson reportedly said, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” And Jackson sent troops to evict the Cherokees, who traveled the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, thousands dying along the way.
Yes, Ann Coulter, the republic did survive; unfortunately, the Cherokee nation certainly did not fare as well. After tens of thousands of Cherokees died along the way, the nation arrived in the new “territory” with “their government, culture, and people in shambles.”