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One of the reasons that James W. Ely's recent book, The Chief Justiceship of Melville W. Fuller, 1888-1910, is an important contribution to political theory, as well as to the history of the Supreme Court, is that it provides an important lens through which to view the Court at a time when it played a much different role in American life than it does today. In particular, the Fuller Court played active roles in protecting property rights and in fostering commerce, while the modern Court has largely abdicated its historical obligations in these regards. It is important to ponder what motivated the Fuller Court because its jurisprudence raises issues that have special relevance today.

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