Marbury v. Madison
Marbury v. Madison
Citation. 1 Cranch (5 U.S.) 137, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803).
Brief Fact Summary. William Marbury (Marbury) requested the Supreme Court of
the United States (Supreme Court) to issue a Writ of Mandamus ordering the
President, Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson) to appoint him Justice of the Peace.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Supreme Court has judicial review over acts of
Congress. This power allows the Supreme Court to declare those acts that fall
outside the legislature's enumerated powers unconstitutional.
Facts. William Marbury was named Justice of the Peace for the District of
Columbia. This appointment was part of a series of last minute appointments by
President John Adams (Adams) before the end of his administration. The incoming
Jefferson Administration chose not to honor those appointments because formal
commissions had not been delivered by the end of Adam's term. Marbury petitioned
the Supreme Court for a Writ of Mandamus ordering his appointment by the
Issue. Does Marbury have a right to the appointment he demands?
• If Marbury has this right, and the right has been violated, do the laws of the
United States afford him a remedy?
• If the law does afford Marbury a remedy, is it a mandamus issuing from the
Held. Marbury has a
right to resort to the protection of the law and a writ of mandamus is an
appropriate action. However, the Supreme Court does not have original
jurisdiction over this matter.
• If a power granted to the President, is intended solely to be used at the will
of the President in his own discretion, it is not examinable by the courts. If a
specific duty is assigned by law and individual rights depend upon performance
of that duty, an individual with vested rights that has been injured may resort
to the laws of the country for redress. Marbury's appointment is a specific
duty, not a political question, and therefore may be addressed by the courts.
• A Writ of Mandamus is a demand from the court to do a particular thing
specified within the writ. A mandamus from a court directed at an officer of the
government to appoint Marbury would be an appropriate remedy.
• Congress had attempted to grant the Supreme Court original jurisdiction to
issue Writs of Mandamus through a legislative act. The Court determined through
Constitutional interpretation that Congress did not have the authority to grant
this power and that the Supreme Court held only appellate jurisdiction over this
matter. Therefore, the legislative act was overturned as unconstitutional and
Marbury must resort first to the lower courts.
review is not a power expressly granted to the Supreme Court in the United
States Constitution (Constitution). The Supreme Court has determined it has the
power to review acts of the other branches of government to determine their
constitutionality and to overrule those acts that fall outside of the powers
granted within the Constitution.