Jefferson v Marshall, an historical debate now sounding very contemporary

September 24, 2019

Several constitutional and political issues that continue to surface these days have been with us from the very founding of our nation. 

It may be rare, however, except in a classroom perhaps, to hear vigorous, thorough discussion of federalism and states’ rights, judicial review and constraints on executive power.

And so, it was a special privilege to attend a staged debate between two actors portraying President Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice John Marshall, two of our nation’s seminal political figures. 

The actors appeared on the stage at the Morristown National Historical Park in September, dressed for their roles and earnestly using the words of the two men. They pressed each other on issues that go to the very heart of a constitutional republic.

Linda Stamato, of Morristown, is co-director of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and a member of the graduate faculty at the Edward J. Bloustein School. Her blog appears regularly on She can be reached at

The Bernardsville News, September 23, 2019

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