In 1800, President John Adams lost his bid for re-election. Thomas Jefferson wasvoted in for the president. Adams, being a Federalist, disagreed with the beliefs ofJefferson, a republican, and feared that he would shift the power in the government to thestates.
To prevent this, Adams created many new judicial posts and filled them withFederalists. He did this in quite a rush, being he was going to be out of office soon. Allthe appointments were given to his Secretary of State to be sealed and delivered. Secretary of State Marshall completed all the documents except for the ones for theappointments for the District of Columbia. He assumed the next Secretary of State wouldcomplete them.Order now
When Jefferson found out about this he was mad. He order the newSecretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver the final appointments to the selectedjudges. One of the judges that didnt get his promised appointment was WilliamMarbury. Marbury decided to take action in court. Marburys argument was supportedby Section 13 of the Judiciary Act.
This stated the courts could force an official toperform an official duty. This is called a writ of mandamus. Marbury took this claim tothe Supreme Court. The Justice of the Supreme Court is now James Marshall, Adamsold Secretary of State. If he issued the writ, Madison would ignore it and the court wouldbe perceived as powerless. If he didnt issue it, people would think he was a traitor to hisFederalist party.
On February 24, 1803 a decision was rendered. It stated that Marburywas entitled to his appointment and that a court could issue a writ of madamus. He thenwent on to say that Section 13 was contrary to Article III of the Constitution which saidthat the Supreme Court had no original jurisdiction in the case. So a lesser court couldThis cases importance isnt that William Marbury got his appointment as a judgein D. C. but that the Supreme court had the right to declare laws and acts unconstitutional.
In this case Section 13 was considered conflicting with Article III and was thereforeunconstitutional. This case said that the Constitution is the supreme and binding law ofthe land. It also pioneered a process, which after the Civil War was named JudicialReview. Judicial Review is the power of a court to refuse to enforce a law that in theopinion of the judges conflicts with the Constitution.
This is considered by many to bethe most important Supreme Court decision ever. Its ramifications on modern day societyThe belief of John Marshall and the other supreme court justices, that theSupreme Court had the power to declare laws unconstitutional can be found inHamiltons 78th Federalist Paper. In this paper Hamilton says that the Constitution islaw, and judges, not legislative or executives, should interpret the law. This is basicallythe same thing Marshall stated on that February 24th.
A day not as famous, as July 4thbut is right behind it, in being one of the most important days this country has had inBibliography: