Case Brief Summary: Marbury v. Madison
Robert L. Broadwater
July 09, 2012
Summary of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 1 Cranch 137, 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803).
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 ...view middle of the document...
Does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus?
Holding and Rule (Marshall)
1. Yes. Marbury has a right to the commission.
The order granting the commission takes effect when the Executive’s constitutional power of appointment has been exercised, and the power has been exercised when the last act required from the person possessing the power has been performed. The grant of the commission to Marbury became effective when signed by President Adams.
2. Yes. The law grants Marbury a remedy. The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws whenever he receives an injury. One of the first duties of government is to afford that protection.
Where a specific duty is assigned by law, and individual rights depend upon the performance of that duty, the individual who considers himself injured has a right to resort to the law for a remedy. The President, by signing the commission, appointed Marbury a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. The seal of the United States, affixed thereto by the Secretary of State, is conclusive testimony of the verity of the signature, and of the completion of the appointment. Having this legal right to the office, he has a consequent right to the commission, a refusal to deliver which is a plain violation of that right for which the laws of the country afford him a remedy.
3. Yes. The Supreme Court has the authority to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional and therefore void.
It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret the rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Court must decide on the operation of each. If courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.
4. No. Congress cannot expand the scope of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction beyond what is specified in Article III of the Constitution.
The Constitution states that “the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a...