Political Science 102 Exam IV
The Supreme Court Important Concepts:
Marbury vs. Madison (1803) – Historical decision that officially
established judicial review,
the power of the courts, especially the
Supreme Courts, to declare laws of Congress, laws of the states, and
actions of the president as unconstitutional and invalid
, as the most
important judicial check on congressional power.
In the election of
1800, Federalist President John Adams was defeated by Anti-
Federalist Thomas Jefferson.
In the final days of Adams
administration, he filled fifty-nine vacant government positions with
Federalist individuals to “pack” the government with Federalists, one
of whom was William Marbruy.
However, seventeen of these
“midnight appointments” were left undelivered.
Madison attempted to replace the individuals who had been told they
were appointed a position, but did not receive their appointments, with
The Judiciary Act of 1789 stated that Marbury’s case
was the type that could go straight to the Supreme Court without first
being addressed in a lower court.
Marbury requested the Supreme
Court issue a writ of mandamus,
an order issued by the court
instructing someone to fulfill their responsibilities
publicly stated he would refuse to obey the Supreme Court is they
attempted to issue the writ of mandamus.
John Marshall, the
Supreme Court Chief Justice, wanted the Supreme Court to assert the
power of judicial review.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice
Marshall constructed a classic statement in judicial reasoning as he
proceeded step by step to infer judicial review from the Constitution’s
Supremacy and Judicial Power clauses:
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, binding on all
branches of the government: legislative, executive, and judicial.
The Constitution deliberately establishes a government with
Consequently, “an act of the legislature repugnant to the
Constitution is void.”
If this were not true, the government
would be unchecked and the Constitution would be an