Robert L. Broadwater
July 09, 2012
Summary of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 1 Cranch 137, 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803). Facts
The incumbent president Federalist John Adams was defeat in the presidential election by Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. The day before leaving office, President John Adams named forty-two justices of the peace and sixteen new circuit court justices for the District of Columbia. This was an attempt by the Federalists to take control of the federal judiciary before Thomas Jefferson took office. The commissions were signed by President Adams and sealed by acting Secretary of State John Marshall but they were not delivered before the expiration of Adams’s term as president. Thomas Jefferson refused to honor the commissions, claiming that they were invalid because they had not been delivered by the end of Adams’s term. William Marbury (Plaintiff) was an intended recipient of an appointment as justice of the peace. Marbury applied directly to the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of mandamus to compel Jefferson’s Secretary of State, James Madison (Defendant), to deliver the commissions. The Judiciary Act of 1789 had granted the Supreme Court original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus “…to any courts appointed, or persons holding office, under the authority of the United States.” Ironically, John Marshall later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and author of the case’s opinion Issues
1. Does Marbury have a right to the commission?
2. Does the law grant Marbury a remedy?
3. Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional and therefore void? 4. Can Congress expand the scope of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction beyond what is specified in Article III of the Constitution? 5. Does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction to issue writs of...