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‘Marbury v. Madison’ Asserts Judicial Review


Chief Justice John Marshall establishes the principle of judicial review in Marbury v. Madison. In his last few hours in office, President John Adams makes a series of appointments to fill as many posts as possible with Federalists, including William Marbury as a federal justice of the peace. However, when Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, takes over, he tells Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver the appointment. Marbury sues and asks the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus, requiring Madison to deliver the appointment. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the Court such power. The Court rules that while Marbury is entitled to his appointment, the law is unconstitutional, and the Court cannot issue the writ. Thus, the Court asserts the supremacy of the Constitution over any conflicting law and sets the precedent for judicial review over the other branches of federal government.