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Marbury v. Madison

United States Supreme Court
5 U.S. (Cranch 1) 137 (1803)


Marbury v. Madison

Facts

U.S. President John Adams appointed several individuals to the judiciary in the final days of his presidency. The group of appointees was duly approved by Congress, and Adams had signed their commissions. However, finalizing the appointments required delivering the commissions to the appointees, and that step had not been completed by the time Adams's term expired. The next president, Thomas Jefferson, refused to fully finalize Adams's judicial appointments and directed his Secretary of State, James Madison (defendant) not to deliver the commissions. William Marbury (plaintiff), who had been appointed a Justice of the Peace of the District of Columbia by Adams, brought an action against Madison in the United States Supreme Court. Marbury sought a writ of mandamus to compel Madison to deliver the commission and finalize Marbury’s appointment. Congress had authorized the Supreme Court to issue writs of mandamus as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, so Marbury brought his action under the Court's original jurisdiction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, C.J.)

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