As the government was newly establishing its stronghold on the nation, forging its way to a powerful republic and instituting precedents for the future, a struggle to preserve the foundations of American Society instituted by Washington and John Adams existed as Thomas Jefferson took office. In an attempt to maintain the “edifice of the National Government” believing Jefferson would topple the prestigious nation with his atheist views, Adams appointed various Federalists to the judiciary.
Thus, attributing to the single most significant case of the Supreme Court, Marbury Vs. Madison, a struggle between Republicans and Federalists that would end in a future altered by fate. This controversial landmark case established the constitution as “Supreme law” of the United States and developed the power of the Supreme Court, enhancing its independence and proving it a nonpartisan instrument. It established the precedent for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws, through the principle of judicial review.
The development of this power to interpret the constitution instituted the flexibility of the constitution and the ability to forge a road of precedent unfamiliar to the new government, as well as firmly grounding the role of the Judicial Branch. To up hold the precedent already established in the united states by Federalists such as Washington and in fear of the Democratic republican ideas of Jefferson, Adams was determined to keep the federalists in office. Jefferson would have power over congress, but in a “midnight appointment”, Adam’s last day in office he created a “judiciary with a stronghold of Federalism”.
A few technicalities derived into a failure to deliver the commissions and therefore once discover by Jefferson who saw them as a judiciary of “ardent political leaders,” they were kept from delivery. Jefferson, wanting control appointed some of his own judges, and attempted to abolish the jobs of the new circuit judges, of the few whom received their commission. Thus, threatening the foundation of a stable government and the independence of the judiciary system. John Marshall, Chief Justice, appointed by Adams despised Jefferson and sought to undermine his power and authority, which he felt was unjust.
Madbury Vs. Madison gave him this opportunity, an opportunity to attack his enemy head on. He believed the judicial repeal act that Jefferson and this Secretary of State, James Madison, sought, was unconstitutional, and through these beliefs he acted boldly, instituting judicial precedent. William Madbury, feeling he had a right to his position of Justice of Peace, asked the Court to issue an order forcing Madison to appoint Marbury, whose commission he was with holding in order to replace him with a Republican. Marshall demanded an explanation why such a writ should not be ordered, thus attempting to assort authority over the Executive Branch.
Marshall was determined to assail upon Jefferson and used this case as an excuse, especially because of the abolition of the circuit courts and the postponement of the next Supreme Court hearing, to by time. Jeffersonians then attempted to obstruct the truth and sly away from responsibility, ultimately not facing up to the accusations of with holding viable commissions, and a sending the supreme court into a round about investigation, in which officials refused to testify and failed to appear before the court.
Marshall was questioning the authority of the executive branch, trotting on thin ground to be exact, and putting him self in an unstable predicament. With the Jeffersonians boycotting the hearing, Marshall was thrown into a position that would shape the future power of the Supreme Court. His only option stood to either issue the writ requested by Madbury, which was an act of contempt toward the executive branch, which might end in the impeachment of Marshall and reduce the prestige and authority of the Court.
The only other option was to surrender to Jefferson, which was not a choice for Marshall, but he found a way out, giving him the title “Founder of Constitutional law”. Marbury was entitled to his commission and the acts of Madison were a violation of the law, but the Supreme Court could not authorize a writ, for it wasn’t in their power. Marshall backed this weak argument up with section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, in which he stated “the court could not issue mandamus except on cases that came to appeal from lower courts, and this case was directly originated from the Supreme Court.
He backed up this idea when he suggested that “it was the duty of the judicial department to define what law was” and that they had a right to null any law that was unconstitutional, thus section 13 failed to exist and writ could not be issued. Therefore Marshall managed to disparage his enemies and escape impeachment, as well as established new authority in the Supreme Court, and introduce the idea of judicial review. This idea of judicial review initiated by Marshall has become the most distinguishing trait of the American constitutional system and a precedent of power in the judicial system today.
He won his fight to preserve the independence and integrity of the system,” and constituted an expansion employed today, that amplifies the power of the federal government to allow the Supreme Court to void a law that is unjustifiable under the constitution. On the whole, the case of Marbury Vs. Madison was of little importance in the huge governmental issues, but the precedents established by it possessed the most significance any case has had on the judicial institution and the authority that governs us today.