Judicial Review: 1803 Chief Justice John Marshall

1787 WordsJul 15, 20188 Pages
The first U.S. Supreme Court case to apply the principle of "judicial review" - the power of federal courts to void acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution is considered to be one of the most important cases in the Supreme Court history. This case was a landmark United States Supreme Court case because the Court formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution (LII). Written in 1803 by Chief Justice John Marshall, the decision played a key role in making the Supreme Court a separate branch of government on par with Congress and the executive. The issue that the case resolved was itself of little significance. It was all based on an issue of political patronage,…show more content…
Article III also says that the Court's appellate jurisdiction is subject to "such Exceptions and . . . Regulations as the Congress shall make." No such provision is made with respect to the Court's original jurisdiction. The Constitution thus implicitly suggests that, in contrast, the Court's original jurisdiction is not subject to congressional regulation. All of this legal detail is by way of introduction to the dilemma that John Marshall faced in Marbury. The fundamental question was, did the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction (for example, the constitutional authority) to issue the writ of "mandamus" that Marbury sought? Marshall argued that in Section 13, Congress had improperly attempted to add to the Court's original jurisdiction, as Article III implied Congress could never do. Congress did so, according to Marshall, by conferring on the Supreme Court power to issue a writ of mandamus - that is, an order compelling an official to carry out a non-discretionary ("ministerial") act. But there are numerous problems with this argument. First, Article III appears to prohibit Congress from making "exceptions" to (that is, subtractions from), or "regulations" of the Court's original jurisdiction. Yet it never says Congress cannot add to that jurisdiction. Second, in what sense does the power to issue a writ of mandamus that Section 13 granted actually add to the Court's jurisdiction at all? A writ of mandamus is not a new type of case. And jurisdiction,

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