The role of the United States Supreme Court, as designed by the U.S.
Constitution, is to interpret and further define the laws of our country. In cases where
disputes remain unresolved, the U.S. Supreme Court can choose to hear a case, and
decide its outcome based on applicable law. This however, can be more difficult than it
Judicial review is the power of a court to review a statute, or an official action or
inaction, for constitutionality. (1) The case of Marbury v. Madison, (1803) was the
landmark Supreme Court decision, which ultimately gave the Supreme Court the power
of judicial review.
The Marbury v. Madison case began with the changing of Presidential
administrations in 1801. The United States at the time was obviously a new nation, and to
that point, had been predominantly under the control of the Federalist Party. This
particular election, would in effect, be the first change of political power, both to the
executive and legislative branches of government.
The incumbent president, John Adams, a Federalist, had been defeated by the
incoming president, Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, who was scheduled to take office
on March 04, 1801. (2). The outgoing Federalist controlled congress met for the last time
in December 1800 and made a last minute attempt to retain some of its power, by
passing a Judiciary Act which President Adams signed in February 1801. This new act
created a number of new courts to be controlled by judges appointed by the Federalist
One of these “Midnight Judges”, as they came to be called, was William Marbury,
who had been appointed Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia. William
Marbury was appointed by outgoing President Adams, and approved by the still federalist
controlled senate, prior to the change of administrations. Marbury’s official appointment
was signed by President Adams and his Secretary of State, John Marshall, but in order for
the appointment... [continues]
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