Marbury vs. Madison

Date: 1803
  • The case came out of a struggle between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. After Thomas Jefferson was elected president, but before he was actually sworn into office the current president, John Adams and the Federalist congress created a number of new judgeships (Judiciary Act of 1801) and appointed all Federalists in order to try and balance out the Jeffersonians once they took over.
  • William Marbury, justice of DC sued to save his commission.
  • Until Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, it was wondered who had the final authority to interpret the meaning of the Constitution.
  • Chief Justice John Marshall determined the concept of "judicial review" - the Supreme Court alone had the last word on the question of Constitutionality.
  • This upset Jeffersonians (they even tried to impeach loud-mouth judge Samuel Chase, but failed).
  • Marbury v. Madison is significant because it is the first case which really asserted the Supreme Court's power of Judicial Review.

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