jeff asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 4 weeks ago

Marbury vs Madison?

Can someone explain this Supreme Court Case in detail? I know it established the principle of judicial review in the United States, but what are the specifics? Like who is Marbury?? What happened with Marbury? and etc...

Thank you.

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    In 1800, John Adams lost the Presidential race to Thomas Jefferson.  Back then, the Presidents were inaugurated in March, so there was a really long time where Adams was serving as a lame duck.  In 1801, just a few days before he left office, Adams appointed a whole bunch of Federalists to the judiciary.  This was meant to try and protect Federalist power against the Democratic-Republicans who had just won a smashing electoral victory.  The Federalist majority Senate confirmed the new appointments but when Jefferson took over they had not yet actually been delivered to the appointees.  Jefferson ordered James Madison, his political ally who had just been installed as Secretary of State, to not deliver the commissions.  One of the appointees, William Marbury, sued Madison over this in the Supreme Court.  When the case reached the Supreme Court they had to decide three issues: did Marbury deserve his commission on the merits? Was there a legal remedy available to him?  And did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction?  They easily answered the first two questions with a yes.  The third question is where we get judicial review from.  Marshall looked at a law, the Judiciary Act of 1789, which clearly authorized the Supreme Court to hear this case.  But he contrasted that with the section of the constitution which laid out the courts jurisdiction.  He found those in conflict and ended up striking down the relevant part of the Judiciary Act as unconstitutional. 

    The decision was a neat bit of political and legal maneuvering from Chief Justice John Marshall.  There were a number of issues involved.  One of these was that Marbury clearly was done wrong and should have gotten his commission.  OTOH, Marshall feared that if he ordered Jefferson and Madison to hand it over, that they would simply have ignored him, setting a precedent which would make the court impotent.  So he threaded the needle gracefully.  He issued a ruling which gave Marbury a moral victory, ruling for him on the merits of the case, but which effectively made it so that the Jefferson administration's decision to not deliver the commission stood, thus heading off any immediate conflict.  At the same time, he asserted a new expansion of power for the court, judicial review.

  • xyzzy
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803), was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that established the principle of judicial review in the United States, meaning that American courts have the power to strike down laws, statutes, and some government actions that they find to violate the Constitution of the United States. The Court's landmark decision established that the U.S. Constitution is actual "law", not just a statement of political principles and ideals, and helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the federal government.

    John Adams had lost the U.S. presidential election of 1800 to Jefferson, and in March 1801, just two days before his term as president ended, Adams appointed several dozen Federalist Party supporters to new circuit judge and justice of the peace positions in an attempt to frustrate Jefferson and his supporters.  The U.S. Senate quickly confirmed Adams's appointments, but upon Adams' departure and Jefferson's inauguration a few of the new judges' commissions still had not been delivered.  Jefferson believed the commissions were void because they had not been delivered in time, and instructed his new Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver them.  One of the men whose commissions had not been delivered in time was William Marbury, a Maryland businessman who had been a strong supporter of Adams  In late 1801, after Madison had repeatedly refused to deliver his commission, Marbury filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court asking the Court to issue a writ of mandamus forcing Madison to deliver his commission.

    In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Marshall, the Court held firstly that Madison's refusal to deliver Marbury's commission was illegal, and secondly that it was normally proper for a court in such situations to order the government official in question to deliver the commission.  However, in Marbury's case, the Court did not order Madison to comply. Examining the section of the law Congress had passed that gave the Supreme Court jurisdiction over types of cases like Marbury's, Marshall found that it had expanded the definition of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction beyond what was originally set down in the U.S. Constitution.  Marshall then struck down that section of the law, announcing that American courts have the power to invalidate laws that they find to violate the Constitution.  Because this meant the Court had no jurisdiction over the case, it could not issue the writ that Marbury had requested.

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