Marbury v. Madison
5 U.S. 137 (1803)
Facts: Before Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801 after John Adams, Adams commissioned many federalist judges to keep some control from the incoming democratic-republicans. William Marbury was one of those commissioned. All of the commissions were not delivered before Jefferson took office, Marbury??™s being one of them. Jefferson told new secretary of state, James Madison, not to deliver the commissions because they were now void from not being delivered on time. Marbury filed an affidavit requiring Madison to prove why a writ of mandamus should not be issued requiring Madison to deliver the commissions. Lower courts did not issue a writ of mandamus so Marbury went to the Supreme Court.
Issues: Does Marbury have a right to his commission If he does have the right, and it has been violated, can the law give him a remedy Can the Supreme Court issue a writ of mandamus to Madison Can the court review acts of Congress
Holdings: Yes Marbury had a right to his commission, but the court did not have the power to force Madison to deliver the commission. Yes the law can give him a remedy. No the Supreme Court cannot grant a writ of mandamus because it did not have original jurisdiction; it could not force Madison to deliver the commissions. Yes the Supreme Court can review acts of Congress.
1) Failure to deliver a commission is violative of a vested legal right. The president is using his power of appointment.
2) The President by signing the commission, appointed Marbury. By having this legal right to the office, he has a right to the commission, and refusal to deliver is a violation of that right for which the laws of the country afford him a remedy.
3) The Supreme Court in this case did not have original jurisdiction and therefore cannot issue a writ of mandamus requiring Madison to deliver the commissions.
4) The Supreme Court can determine if acts of congress are unconstitutional. If a law made by congress violates the constitution, the court must declare that law void.
Note: Marbury was not granted the commission and did not become Justice of the Peace of the District of Columbia.
Comment: This case established the courts power of judicial review, where the court may review the acts of Congress and declare them unconstitutional.
Marbury v. Madison