The Case of Marbury v. Madison

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The case of Marbury v. Madison centers on a case brought before the Supreme Court by William Marbury. Shortly after Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in the election of 1800, Congress increased the number of circuit courts. Adams sought to fill these new vacancies with people who had Federalist backgrounds. To accomplish this, he used the powers granted under the Organic Act to issue appointments to 42 justices of the peace and 16 circuit court justices for the District of Columbia. Adams signed the appointments on his last day in office and they were subsequently sealed by Secretary of State John Marshall. However, many of the appointments were not delivered before Adams left office and Jefferson ordered the deliveries stopped when he took charge. Marbury was one of Adams’ appointees for justice of the peace. Marbury brought a case before the Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the new Secretary of State James Madison to deliver the appointment.
The case involved several questions the Supreme Court had to answer. The first question was whether or not Marbury had a right to the commission. The Court decided that he did have the right because the appointment was issued while Adams was still in office and took effect as soon as it was signed. The next question was to determine if the law gave Marbury remedy. The Court found that the law did provide remedy for Marbury. Adams signed the appointment and Marshall sealed it thereby giving Marbury legal right to the office he was appointed to. Therefore, denying delivery of the appointment to him was a violation of his rights and the law provides him remedy. The third question was to determine whether the Supreme Court had the authority to review acts o...

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...ers. It also defined what power a state has over a legitimate federal institution. For example, a state may not use its power to impede the operation of a federal institution by taxing its activities, but still has the authority to collect property tax from a federal institution.
These early Supreme Court decisions have made a lasting impression on the United States. Marbury v. Madison established the concept of judicial review that strengthened the ability of the judcicary to act as a check against the legislative and executive branches by providing for the review of Congressional acts by the judiciary to determine the constitutionality of such acts. McCulloch v. Maryland allowed for the expansion of Congress’ implied powers needed to execute its delegated powers as well as defined the supremacy of constitutionally enacted federal entities over state statutes.
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