Marbury vs Madison

The foundation on which rests the government of the United States is the Constitution.

Like most important political documents, the Constitution is subject to interpretation – that is one of its great strengths. The Constitution is not a legal straitjacket. It is firm yet flexible enough to meet the needs of a growing nation.

Naturally, the question arises; who is to say what the Constitution means? Who is to say whether a law enacted by Congress is constitutional or whether it is not? Congress? the president? the judiciary? This question arose during the very infancy of the Republic. It brought face-to-face two eminent statesmen who have profoundly affected America as we know it today. President Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice John Marshall.

Jefferson believed the voice of the people is supreme. Let the people decide through their elected representatives what the Constitution means and what it means not.

John Marshall believed the Constitution itself intends for the federal judiciary to make that decision. A decision made by men who are appointed to the bench for life, who therefore stand above party strife and political turmoil.

This difference of opinion of these two men on this crucial issue was resolved within the framework of the case known as Marbury versus Madison. A case which was heard before the supreme court in the year 1803. This case led to one of the most important decisions ever made by that court.

Sometime during the fall of 1801, four men decided to pay a visit to the United States Department of State. The four men were led by William Marbury. President John Adams, during the very last days of his administration, had nominated the four as justices of the peace for the District of Columbia. The Senate had confirmed them. President Adams had signed their commissions and then Secretary of State John Marshall had affixed to the commissions the seal of the United States. In the great flurry of activities during John Adams’ exit from the political stage, these commissions had disappeared. Jefferson’s Republicans were in power now. Thomas Jefferson was president and James Madison was the Secretary of State.

Marbury and his companions would file a petition in the Supreme Court. What they demanded specifically, was that the Secretary of State, James Madison, be forced by an order from that court to hand over the commissions to which the men felt themselves entitled. The power to issue such an order had been given to the Supreme Court by the Judiciary act of 1789.

At the time of Marbury’s petetion, the Supreme Court consisted of six men: Chief Justice John Marshall, Justice Moore, Justice Paterson, Justice Cushing, Justice Washington and Justice Chase. Part of the strife was that all were appointed by either George Washington or John Adams who were federalists.

Arguments in Marbury versus Madison were heard before the Supreme Court in February of 1803. on its face, the case had nothing to do with the question as to whose interpretation of the Constitution was the binding one. Yet, Chief Justice Marshall made it a springboard for a crucially significant pronouncement on just that matter. He did so by questioning the constitutionality of the very act of Congress which had empowered the court to hear the case in the first place under section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789.

John Marshall’s decision in Marbury versus Madison was that the Constitution does not empower the Supreme Court to issue a direct order to Mr. Madison to produce Marbury’s commission. Put simply, the court had no jurisdiction in this case. However, Marshall went a step further. Marshall said that section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 proports to give the court the power which the Constitution in fact it does not give it. Section 13 therefore is unconstitutional.

What on the surface appeared to be interparty wrangling was used by Marshall to resolve a great political issue. Who is to say what the Constitution means was answered. John Marshall said it is the Supreme Court.

In all, President Jefferson won his battle against Marbury and his companions who never received their commissions However, Chief Justice John Marshall won the establishment that the Supreme Court has the final arbitration to the meaning of the Constitution. Marshall declared for the first time that an act of Congress signed into law by the President as unconstitutional.

The right of the courts to pass on the constitutionality of laws, the principle of judicial review was not new. It had been exercised before at the state level. In Marbury VS Madison, John Marshall extended it to encompass federal law. In so doing, Marshall established the right of the Supreme Court of the United States to say what the Constitution means and what it means not to the government of the states and the federal government as well.

Marbury versus Madison taught America that the Constitution cannot be ignored in settling great political issues. It stressed the limitations on governmental power provided by the instrument and it affirmed the constitutional duty of the Supreme Court to decide if and when the political branches of government exceeded their constitutional bounds.

See the film on this subject that includes reenacted scenes with actors who bring this interesting event to exciting life included in VOLUME TWO of The Best of American Liberty Magazine on the DVD disc in the collection.


Marbury v. Madison - US Supreme Court Decision that any law that violates the Constitution is automatically void.

Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.

We live under a government that passes unconstitutional laws, then drags its feet when hauled before the Supreme Court to test that law's Constitutionality. But under Marbury v. Madison, the US Supreme Court ruled that any law that violates the Constitution is automatically void. And under John Bad Elk vs United States, any citizen has a right to resist with lethal force any violation of their civil rights by the application of unconstitutional laws.

Joe Biden's claim to a government right to determine what guns We The People may be allowed to own violates both the Second and Tench Amendments, and under Marbury v. Madison, any laws passed to limit our Second Amendment rights are automatically null and void.

Source: Marbury v. Madison - US Supreme Court Decision that any law that violates the Constitution is automatically void. | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest. “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529:Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest