Extra Credit – Judicial Review
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 127 (1803)
1. What was basic disagreement?
2. Why did Marbury seek relief?
3. Why is concept of judicial review central to our system of separation of
powers and checks and balances?
This is perhaps the most difficult case to understand (because of it was
written almost 250 years ago and it describes arcane legal processes).
Nevertheless, it is arguably the most important case in United States’
history. Factually, Marbury was appointed to be a judge (then called a
Justice of the Peace) in Washington DC by outgoing President Adams. His
appointment was confirmed by the Senate. His commission (along with the
commissions of a few other judges) was properly signed and sealed, but
never delivered to him. Marbury sued the new Secretary of State, James
Madison, to make him deliver the commission so he could become a judge. The
legal device to effect this action was called a writ of mandamus. The
tricky part to the case is its procedure. Marbury filed his case directly
in the Supreme Court (not in a lower federal court) in accordance with the
judiciary act (a law passed by Congress). This law expanded the original
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond what the Constitution defined its
original jurisdiction to be. The importance of the case is it sets a
process/precedent for what should happen when a law passed by a legislature
and the language of the constitution are at odds. Read the case and watch
the following program: http://landmarkcases.c-span.org/Case/1/Marbury-V-Links to an external site.
Madison. It is about an hour and a half in length. Your paper should be 5-7
pages in length and answer the three questions included in the original
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