Marbury v. Madison

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Marbury v. Madison,

case decided in 1803 by the U.S. Supreme Court. William Marbury had been commissioned justice of the peace in the District of Columbia by President John Adams in the "midnight appointments" at the very end of his administration. When the new administration did not deliver the commission, Marbury sued James Madison, Jefferson's Secretary of State. (At that time the Secretary of State was charged with certain domestic duties as well as with conducting foreign affairs.) Chief Justice John Marshall held that, although Marbury was entitled to the commission, the statute that was the basis of the particular remedy sought was unconstitutional because it gave the Supreme Court authority that was implicitly denied it by Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The decision was the first by the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional and void an act passed by Congress that the Court considered in violation of the Constitution. The decision established the doctrine of judicial review, which recognizes the authority of courts to declare statutes unconstitutional.


See R. L. Clinton, Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
Chief Justice Marshall wanted to declare Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional, thereby making the Marbury case moot, but he realized that such a bold assertion of authority would be ignored by the administration, thus weakening the Court, perhaps seriously.
Chase was later acquitted, but not before the Marbury case was heard and decided in 1803.
Given Marshall's ability to discover the constitutional problem with section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 in the actual Marbury case, (54) he might have been able to find some minor constitutional infirmity with the Act creating the Circuit Court of D.