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Example research essay topic: System Of Checks And Balances Power Of Judicial Review - 1,023 words

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Marbury v. Madison The Marbury vs. Madison case resulted in the most important Supreme Court decision in history. The courts ruling established the power of judicial review, solidified the Constitutional system of checks and balances, strengthened the power of the federal government, and made the Judiciary an equal partner with the Legislative and Executive branches of government. In the Election, Thomas Jefferson and his anti-federalist Republican Party defeated the incumbent John Adams and the Federalist Party.

The Republicans also won a majority in Congress. In an effort to keep at least one branch of the government under Federalist control before the Republicans took office, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1801 in a lame-duck session. The bill reformed a 1789 statute and created many new judgeships. Adams nominated judges and the Senate confirmed them. Adams then stayed up until long after midnight on March 3, 1801, his last full day in office, signing commissions that put fifty-nine loyal Federalists in office. These were the so-called midnight judges.

In the final weeks before Jefferson took office, John Marshall was Secretary of State and Chief Justice simultaneously. As Secretary of State, he had the task of delivering these commissions. In the press of business, before Adams left office he delivered all but seventeen. Marshall left these on his desk for the incoming Secretary, James Madison, to deliver.

Outraged by Adams appointments, Jefferson ordered Madison not to deliver the commissions. Four of the un commissioned justices of the peace, including William Marbury, sought a writ of mandamus, or order directing Madison to deliver the commissions. Madison disregarded the preliminary order by Marshall to deliver the commissions. Next, Congress, using its authority under the Constitution to make regulations for the federal court, shut down the Supreme Court for a year. Today, the actual decision is unimportant. Even at the time that the case was decided, it was insignificant because Marbury's term as justice would have ended by the time the Court was ready to consider it.

However, this did not prevent Marshall from using the case to suit his purposes. Marshall faced quite a dilemma with this decision. In the first place, Marshalls own failure to deliver the commissions had caused the situation. (At this point, there were no formal rules requiring judges to disqualify themselves in cases where they were personally involved. ) If Marshall granted Marbury's request for a writ of mandamus, Jefferson and Madison could ignore the writ because the Court seemed so weak. If he denied the request, the Supreme Court would be left a helpless victim of presidential or congressional whim. Marshall disposed of the problem by a masterly combination of political adroitness and legal astuteness. First, Marshall daringly rebuked Jefferson and Madison for not delivering the commissions.

He asserted that all the judges were plainly entitled to their commissions. Then, less loudly, he held that the court did not have the power to issue writs of mandamus and therefore could not order the delivery of the commissions. The Court maintained that the portion of the 1789 Judiciary Act that gave the Court the power to issue writs of mandamus violated the Constitution, which did not give such a power. Therefore, the act was invalid. Marshall used a question that was moot the invalidation of a federalist law (not Republican), a petty procedural to establish for all time the authority of the Supreme Court to declare laws of Congress void when they are contrary to the Constitution. Marshalls establishment of judicial review had far-ranging effects.

Judicial review completed the system of checks and balances that was a vital component of the Constitution. The Legislative branch, divided into two houses, has a check on each side. The system of separation of powers implied that each branch, as Madison remarked, had the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist the encroachments of the others. ' However, without judicial review, what power does the Judiciary have? With Marshalls establishment of review, the Supreme Court could check both the Executive and the Legislative.

This points out two alternative arguments that have a sounder logic for judicial review. The first would have based judicial review on the supremacy in the Constitution. This would ultimately have vested the power of review in the Supreme Court. However, it also points clearly to the states, in the person of their own appointed judges, to review the legitimacy of national law. Even with Marshalls suppression of this states right of review. The idea came up as the nullification controversy of Calhoun and ultimately was a cause of the Civil War.

The second argument could be inferred not from the Constitution but from the structure of the federal government itself and its system of checks and balances. Marshall could have argued that judicial review was necessary to give the Judiciary a power to check the Legislative and Executive and to balance out the government. However, Marshall realized that such an argument would also serve to emphasize the other branches checks on the Court and, more importantly, would have made all branches legitimate interpreters of the Constitution. Clearly, Marbury v.

Madison does more than just give the Supreme Court the power of judicial review. It also gives the foundation for the idea that the Court is the final and supreme authority on all matters constitutional. As these facts demonstrate, Marbury had incalculable effects on the Constitution and government. In his decision, Marshall secured the principle of judicial review for further use, established finally the power of the Constitution as a permanent and adaptable document, and by portraying the Court as a watchdog over all constitutional infractions, large or small raised in the publics estimation the legitimacy of all judicially accepted national legislation in a new and vulnerable Union.

Marshall had forever changed the task of the Supreme Court. The job would not any longer be the survival of the Court but to use its powers while restraining its excesses, to have it guide but not control democratic life; to have it apply but not revise the Constitution; and to have it work with, not over, the coordinate branches of national political power.


Free research essays on topics related to: power of judicial review, supreme court, system of checks and balances, legislative and executive, secretary of state

Research essay sample on System Of Checks And Balances Power Of Judicial Review

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