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Marbury v. Madison was a landmark legal case wherein the U.S. Supreme Court first declared an act of Congress as unconstitutional. It established the doctrine of judicial review written by Chief Justice John Marshall on February 24, 1803.
President John Adams had made many federal appointments before his term ended. He filled the judiciary system with Federalists in order to preserve his party’s control of the branch and to aggravate the legislative agenda of newly elected president Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party.
- Adams appointed William Marbury as Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia.
- Marbury was part of Adams’ ‘midnight appointees’. He received his commission at the start of Jefferson’s term.
- Once inaugurated and in office, Jefferson instructed James Madison, his secretary of state, to withhold Marbury’s commission.
- Marbury appealed to the Supreme Court and petitioned to issue a Writ of Mandamus to compel Madison to act, claiming that his action was illegal. He petitioned it along with three other similar appointees.
- A Writ of Mandamus is a court order to a subordinate government official, ordering the government official to fulfill their official duties properly or to correct an abuse of will.
- Marbury used the provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 to enable his claim to the Supreme Court.
- The supreme court denied the petition of Marbury. Chief Justice John Marshall stated that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, for it the gave the Supreme Court authority that was denied by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. He held that the Constitution did not give the Supreme Court the power to issue Writs of Mandamus.
- In a nutshell, the Judiciary Act of 1789 established the federal judiciary of the United States. As per Article III of Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, it prescribed that the power of the judiciary shall be vested in one supreme Court and such inferior courts. The Judiciary Act made no provision for the structure or procedures of any of the courts which were transferred to the Congress.
- As per Marshall, Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 provided that Writs of Mandamus may be issued. However, that section of the Act was inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid.
- The decision of Marshall in denying the petition was highly acclaimed. He made a strong statement to preserve the status of the Supreme Court as the head of a co-equal branch of government.
- The Marbury v. Madison case was an instance wherein the Supreme Court struck down a law from the Congress for the first time as it was unconstitutional.
- The Marbury v. Madison case set a precedent for the dutiful power of the court and its commitment to checks and balances. This was the beginning of the practice of “judicial review.”
Marbury vs Madison Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Marbury vs Madison Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Marbury v. Madison which was a landmark legal case wherein the U.S. Supreme Court first declared an act of Congress as unconstitutional.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Marbury v. Madison Facts
- Did It Happen?
- Marbury v. Madison Crossword
- Who am I?
- Marbury v. Madison Word Search
- Point of View
- To Say What the Law is…
- Political Cartoon Analysis
- Marbury v. Madison: Impact in Society
- My Opinion
- Concept Mapping
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