As soon as civilizations created constitutions, actions were being called unconstitutional by those who opposed them. In some instances, unconstitutional acts were the subject of revolution, regicide, or as happened in the American political system, the declaration of a Judiciary body. American judicial review can broadly be defined as the power of this such judicial branch of the government to determine whether or not the acts of all branches of the government and government official comply with the Constitution. It derives from the doctrine of "judicial supremacy", which in turn legitimises this definition by declaring that "both the letter and spirit of the Court's constitutional determinations bind all branches of government and government officials." (Siegel, Ely, McCloskey). Originating as far back as the late 1700's, this practice of judicial review, has allowed judges, thus, to maintain limited government and the rule of the people and to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution, by using the power allocated to them "to declare "null and void" any acts of the national government or of the states which they themselves deem contrary to the Constitution." (Irish and Prothro, 522). Thus, in effect the law becomes "what the judges say it is" (Irish and Prothro, 522).
Judicial Review as we know it today, (an act exercised by both the state and federal judiciary alike, and untimely the Supreme Court) has its roots firmly planted in the later half of the nineteenth century, several years indeed before the monumentally important and frequently cited case of Marbury Vs Madison of 1903. While the Founding Fathers (farmers and arbitraries alike) didn't explicitly spell out the power of judicial review in the Constitution, "they probably intended the judiciary to have such powers" (Irish and Prothro, 523). They weren't completely utopian in their views, however, and probably realised of their own volition that "to... [continues]
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