MARBURY v. MADISON
United States Supreme Court (1803)
ISSUE: Does Article III of the Constitution allow presentation of an act of Congress before the Supreme Court? Is it constitutional for the courts to issue writs of mandamus?
FACTS: The Adams Administration appointed William Marbury as the justice of peace in the District of Columbia. However, he needed a warrant from the office of the president confirming the appointment. James Madison, the secretary of state for the presidency, was in charge of offering the letter. However, James Madison refused to submit the letter to the commission, which was a prompt for William Marbury and other appointees’ petition for the Supreme Court according to which James Madison was to be compelled to provide the writs.
ANALYSIS: The Judiciary Act of 1789 constituted Article III of the Constitution that specified the powers of the judiciary in section 1. The Supreme Court bore higher responsibilities as compared to the subordinate courts. The request to offer mandamus conflicted between the Act and the Constitution. According to the Act, the Supreme Court had the powers to provide mandamus to any public officer. However, according to the constitution, the Supreme Court judges refuted the claim that the Congress had powers to modify the decisions made by the Supreme Court. The conflict between the Judiciary and the Constitution made the judges uphold the constitution, which is their primary role. The Supreme Court did not have any jurisdiction in offering a mandamus. The decision denied William Marbury the right to receive the writ through a mandamus.
CONCLUSION: The work of the judges was to uphold the constitution. The conflict between the Act of the Judiciary and Constitution meant that the judges had to concentrate on the original function of the courts in upholding the law. Compelling issuance of the writ would result in violating the Constitution which lacked the power to issue a mandamus to James Madison.