Marbury v. Madison 1803

Megan Robillard & Grayson Fleming

Main Cause

The Marbury v. Madison case occurred when President John Adams appointed William Marbury (among others) as judges. Adams was a Federalist, and the incoming President, Thomas Jefferson, was a Democratic-Republican. Jefferson told the secretary of state, James Madison, not to commission Marbury as a judge. William Marbury sued him, asking the Supreme Court to force Madison to commission him to become a judge.


The Court ruled against Marbury's attempt to sue, and determined that the Court itself has the final say on what the Constitution means. This is judicial review.

Key Issue: Judicial Review

Impact on United States

Through judicial review, the Supreme Court has the power to decide whether an act of the government (legislative or executive at the federal, state, or local level) goes against the Constitution or not.