Marbury Vs. Madison

Essay by DrebryanUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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Marbury v. Madison is a landmark case in United States law, the basis for the exercise of judicial review of Federal statutes by the United States Supreme Court as a constitutional power. The Court ruled that it had the power to declare void a statute which it considered revolting to the United States Constitution. Chief Justice John Marshall presided over the case, and used the case to legally establish the right of the judicial branch of government and in particular, the Supreme Court, to overrule the actions of coequal branches of government. This decision laid the basis for the current power of the Supreme Court.

From the time of George Washington and his successor, John Adams, Only members of the Federalist Party were appointed to the judge's bench, and under the terms of the Constitution, they held office for life as long as they maintained "good behavior." When the opposing Republicans won the election of 1800, the Jeffersonians found that although they controlled the presidency and Congress, they lacked control of the judicial branch of Government.

The Judiciary Act of 1800 had created a number of new judgeships. On March 2, two days before President Jefferson's inauguration, President Adams appointed 42 Federalists to these newly created courts. On March 3, Marshall became Chief Justice, and swore in Jefferson. Although President Adams tried to fill the empty judges' positions prior to the end of his term, a number of commissions had not been delivered, and one of the appointees, William Marbury, sued Secretary of State James Madison to force him to deliver his commission as a justice of the peace of the District of Columbia.

William Marbury's as well as 24 other judges' positions were found void by President Jefferson because they had not been officially delivered by day's end. At...