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Case Review: Marbury v. Madison

There are many landmark cases in the United States that are still being referred to by courts today. One of those cases is the Marbury v. Madison court case. The case established that the judicial department has absolute power to review any laws passed in the country and determine whether they comply with the U.S. Constitution. This essay will present a short overview of the case and discuss its importance.

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The Marbury v. Madison court case is one of the oldest and most substantial court cases in the United States. The case dates back to 1801, when President Adams recommended 52 candidates for various positions in judicial offices at the very end of his presidential term (Ray 210). These nominations were a last-minute move to prevent the next President, Jefferson, filling the available positions with the loyalists of his party (Ray 210). Although most of the nominees were granted positions in various judicial offices, several commissions were not delivered (Ray 210). After the inauguration of Jefferson, the undelivered commissions were disregarded completely (Ray 210). Thus, President Jefferson’s decision not to allow the commissions of Adams’s appointees to be delivered led to the Marbury v. Madison court case.

This prompted the appointed candidates to appeal to the Supreme Court for their commissions to be delivered (Ray 210).

One of those candidates was William Marbury, who argued that he has a constitutional right to this appointment and that Secretary of State at the time, James Madison, should approve his candidacy (Ray 210). Although the court agreed that Marbury had the right to his appointment, it found that the Act that allowed Marbury to appeal to the court violated Article VI of the Constitution (Ray 211). It was declared that no law should be above the country’s Constitution, with Marbury losing the case (Ray 211). This, the case set an important precedent for the judicial department to be able to review laws to establish whether they comply with the Constitution.

The Marbury v. Madison case was selected for this essay due to its undeniable significance to the United States history. Its implications are numerous and critical to the protection of constitutional rights. If constitutional rights are to be accepted as the uppermost rights in a country, there should not be a precedent of ordinary laws overruling the Constitution. The primary outcome of the case was the formation of the judicial review principle that is still being adhered to today (Ray 210). The court case led to the Constitution being proclaimed as the most important legal document in the country. If any law passed by the Parliament is found to contradict the Constitution or it undermines citizens’ constitutional rights, it can be overturned by the Supreme Court. The American legal history was, in many ways, shaped by the Marbury v. Madison case. One of the examples of the precedent set by the case used in court proceedings is the United States v. Nixon case when the Supreme Court ruled against the then President Nixon (“U.S. V. Nixon: Summary of the Decision”). This ruling was of great significance as it showed that the head of government is not above the law.

In conclusion, the Marbury v. Madison case can be called one of the most important court cases in the history of the United States. It instituted the principle of judicial review, stating that no law in the country can contradict the Constitution. It also granted the judicial department power to review and strike down any legislation passed in the country if they do not comply with the Constitution.

Works Cited

Ray, Clyde. “John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, and the Construction of Constitutional Legitimacy.” Law, Culture and the Humanities, vol. 15, no. 1, 2019, pp. 205-226.

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“U.S. V. Nixon: Summary of the Decision.” Landmark Supreme Court Cases, 2020, Web.

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