Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each. [p178]

So, if a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.
Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

RULE — The Supreme Court has the power to review legislation of the United States and determine if they conflict the United States Constitution. If the Court finds a conflicting legislation, they can declare it unconstitutional.

Note that in this case the power of appointment is in Article 3 of the Constitution so the power can not “conflict” with the Constitution itself.

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If, then, the 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. Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

RULE — The Constitution is superior to any other set of laws .

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If they do afford him a remedy, is it a mandamus issuing from this court? Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

ISSUE 3 — If the laws of the United Stated afford Maybury a remedy, is that remedy a writ of mandamus issued by the Supreme Court? A writ of mandamus is an order handed down by a court to perform or refrain from a particular act or action. Here, Marshall is seeking a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court to permit him to serve as a Justice of the Peace in Washington, D.C.

Although the Supreme Court answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, they answer “no” to this final question since in doing so the Court would be acting outside their powers given to them in Article 3 of the Constitution.

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If he has a right, and that right has been violated, do the laws of his country afford him a remedy? Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

ISSUE 2 -If Marbury has the right to appointment as Justice of the Peace of D.C., do the laws of the United States provide Marbury with a remedy to the problem?

The Supreme Court answered “yes” to this question.

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Has the applicant a right to the commission he demands? Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

ISSUE 1 — Does Marbury have a right to appointment to the position (Justice of the Peace of Washington DC) given to him by John Adams?

The Supreme Court answered “yes” to this question.

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February 15th, 2013

It doesn’t seem necessary for the Court to deal with that question because it wasn’t at issue. Strange?

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At the last term, on the affidavits then read and filed with the clerk, a rule was granted in this case requiring the Secretary of State to show cause why a mandamus [p154] should not issue directing him to deliver to William Marbury his commission as a justice of the peace for the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia. Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

FACTS — Immediately preceding the conclusion of John Adams presidential term, Adams appointed Marbury as a Justice of the Peace for the city of Washington D.C. Thomas Jefferson followed the Adams presidency and refused to finalize the last second appointments made by Adams. Jefferson relayed his objection to appointments to Madison, his Secretary of the State. Marbury brought suit against Madison seeking appointment of the position, through a court ordered writ of mandamus. A writ of mandamus is an order issued from a higher court to a lower court to perform or refrain from a particular act

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Marbury Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

PARTY — William Marbury — Appointed Justice of the Peace in Washington D.C. by John Adams, a position not recognized by Adams' successor Thomas Jefferson

Nice ascot.

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Madison Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

PARTY — James Madison — Then Secretary of the State for President Thomas Jefferson who rejected John Adams' appointment of William Marbury as Justice of the Peace of Washington D.C. because Thomas Jefferson instructed Madison to do so.

Later on James Madison became the 4th President of the United States succeeding President Jefferson.

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MARSHALL, C.J., Opinion of the Court Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

JUDGE — Justice John Marshall – First served as Secretary of the State under President John Adams and was later appointed as Chief Justice by Adams.

C.J. = Chief Justice. Marshall was appointed Chief Justice by President Adams. During the last months of Adams’s presidency, Marshall was both Chief Justice and Secretary of State (his old job). As Secretary of State, he was in charge of delivering the justice of the peace commissions. He had delivered all but four when it turned midnight of the last day of Adams’s term. So he was not only familiar with the facts of the case but personally involved!

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Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court. Marbury v. Madison by Law Genius (Ft. John Marshall)

ANALYSIS — Marshall’s opinion is a challenge since in the end it raises more questions than it answers:

  1. Wasn’t the judicial power issue settled before this case?

  2. Does the Constitution contemplate judicial review?

  3. Does judicial review include review of federal statutes?

  4. Why doesn’t the opinion address the jurisdictional question first instead of first addressing the validity of Marbury’s claim to the appointment as Justice of the Peace of Washington D.C.?

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