Marbury v. Madison

Marbury v. Madison Concept:   Judicial v. Executive Power /
Citation: 5 U.S. 137 (1803) Judicial Review
In his last few hours in office, President John Adams made a series of “midnight appointments” to fill as many government posts as possible with Federalists. One of these appointments was William Marbury as a federal justice of the peace. However, Thomas Jefferson took over as President before the appointment was officially given to Marbury. Jefferson, a Republican, instructed Secretary of State James Madison to not deliver the appointment. Marbury sued Madison to get the appointment he felt he deserved. He asked the Court to issue a writ of mandamus, requiring Madison to deliver the appointment. The Judiciary Act, passed by Congress in 1789, permitted the Supreme Court of the United States to issue such a writ.
Whether the Supreme Court of the United States has the power, under Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution, to interpret the constitutionality of a law or statute passed by Congress.
The Court decided that Marbury’s request for a writ of mandamus was based on a law passed by Congress that the Court held to be unconstitutional. The decided unanimously that the federal law Contradicted the Constitution, and since the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, it must reign supreme. Through this case, Chief Justice John Marshall established the power of judicial review: the power of the Court not only to interpret the constitutionality of a law or statute but also to carry out the process and enforce its decision.

This case is the Court’s first elaborate statement of its power of judicial review. In language which Remains relevant today, Chief Justice Marshall said, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial department to say what the law is.” Nowhere in the Constitution does the Court have the Power that Chief Justice Marshall proclaimed. Despite there being no mention of such power in the Constitution, since 1803  our Nation has assumed the two chief principles of this case: that when there is a conflict between the Constitution and a federal or state law, the Constitution is supreme; and that it is the job of the Court to interpret the laws of the United States.