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The Battle of the M's- Presidential Election of 1800 John Adams (federalist) v Thomas Jefferson (democratic-republican) By Cadence Hromatka
The Federalist Congress will pass the Judiciary Act of 1801 allowing for John Adams to make hundreds of appointments to the courts. He also appointed John Marshall, his secretary of state, as chief justice of the United States after Chief Justice Ellsworth resigned.
You are now Chief Justice.
Adams and Marshall worked around the clock to process the papers (commissions) for these last minute “midnight judges.” A few of the commissions had not been processed when Jefferson took office on March 4. Jefferson told James Madison, his secretary of state, to hold them. One of these was for William Marbury.
I will serve this country well.
One man, William Marbury, was upset. He wanted to be a judge! So he asked the United States Supreme Court to issue a legal order called a writ of mandamus (man-DAY-mus). In this case, the writ would have required Marbury’s commission to be delivered. In 1789, Congress had passed a law, the Judiciary Act of 1789, saying people could start at the Supreme Court if all they wanted was a writ of mandamus. Marbury argued that he was entitled to the writ because his commission had already been created. He also argued that the Supreme Court had the power to issue the writ.
I demand to be a judge!
We will not allow it!
The Decision: Marshall turned down his claim. Marshall said that the Constitution did not give the Supreme Court jurisdiction to decide Marbury’s case. That meant the 1789 law passed by Congress was unconstitutional. Therefore, the Supreme Court said it could not help Marbury get his commission.
This is unconstitutional.
This was the first time that judicial review was used. Judicial review is the right of the Supreme Court to review and rule on acts of other branches of government. Judicial Review is important because it allows the Judicial branch to keep the other branches in check.
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