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Marbury V. Madison Essay

794 words - 4 pages

Marbury v. Madison
The power that the Supreme Court has to determine the constitutionality and the validity of the acts of the executive and legislative branches of government is a firmly established basic element of the United States system of government. In 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in the case of Marbury v. Madison resulted in a landmark decision in the history of the Supreme Court. (Kramer, 2000) The court’s ruling established the power of judicial review, declared that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land, and that the Supreme Court has the final authority on interpreting the Constitution.
In the Election of 1801, Thomas Jefferson and his ...view middle of the document...

Marbury sought the help of Charles Lee, former Attorney General. He asked the court to issue a writ of mandamus which would force Madison to deliver the commission. Chief Justice John Marshall was placed in a difficult position in overseeing this matter. He understood that if the court awarded Marbury with a writ of mandamus, the Jefferson administration would ignore it. Therefore, it would weaken the authority of the courts and place him in a position of possible impeachment for handing them such an order. On the other hand, if he denied Marbury’s request, Jefferson would believe that the predominantly Federalist court was surrendering to the Democratic-Republican Party.
Marshall cleverly avoided having to make such a decision (Kramer, 2000). He firmly stated that Madison should have delivered the commission to Marbury. His next words would cast that issue aside and transform the powers held by the Supreme Court. Marshall’s opinion in essence gave the court the power of judicial review and the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution. It also made the Constitution the supreme law of the land. In explaining himself, Marshall turned to Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 which provided that the Supreme Court would have jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus to the officers of the United States. Therefore, the act explicitly authorized the relief which Marbury was seeking (Understanding American...

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