Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Marbury vs. Madison

Facts: With the advice and consent of the senate, President Adams appointed William Marbury to the position of Justice of the Peace of the District of Columbia. Commissions in due form were signed by the President appointing them justice. 

Madison was the Secretary of State under President Jefferson. Marbury requested Madison to deliver his commission but the latter did not comply and withheld the commission. Marbury was asking the SC to issue a writ of mandamus to order Madison to deliver the commission. 

Issue: Whether or not the court has the authority to decide on the case. 

Held: Marbury was appointed and the law creating the office gave him the right to hold office for 5 years independent of the executive and vested in the officer legal rights which are protected by laws. By withholding his commission, vested rights had been violated and he had the right to resort to laws for remedy. 

The court said the Marbury’s commission must be delivered to him but the court cannot issue a writ of mandamus because the Act which gave the court the power to issue such writ was unconstitutional. 

The court held that they have the right to determine the constitutionality of the actions of the other coequal branches of the government (Congress, in this case) and it was within the authority of the judiciary to declare a law unconstitutional. 

“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two law conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. So if a law be in opposition to the constitution: if both the law and the constitution apply to the particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution, disregarding the law: the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is the very essence of judicial duty.” 

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