A strong advocate of a powerful federal judiciary, Adams was unable as president to make appointments that strengthened the Supreme Court.
Admitted to the Massachusetts bar as a young man, Adams found the practice of law tedious and boring. Discontinuing his practice after four years to become a diplomat, he resumed practice between 1801 and 1809 while continuing to pursue a political career, including a term in the U.S. Senate. During this time, Adams argued several commercial cases before the Supreme Court. In Fletcher v. Peck
As president, Adams failed to convince Congress to adopt his proposal for a comprehensive program of “internal improvements” that would have strengthened the federal government. He was no more successful in helping to enhance federal power through his Supreme Court nominations. His nomination of Robert Trimble
Adams later served in the House of Representatives, where he championed the cause of the abolition of slavery. In 1841 he appeared once more before the Court to successfully argue the case of Africans who sought freedom from Spanish slave traders in United States v. The Amistad
Ross, William G. “The Legal Career of John Quincy Adams.” Akron Law Review 23 (Spring, 1990): 415-453.
Crittenden, John J.
Fletcher v. Peck