The Marbury v. Madison was one of the most influential court cases in the US history. The ruling of the Supreme Court was the first court ruling that denounced the legal act on the ground that the legal act was defined by the court as unconstitutional. At the same time, the case passed to the Supreme Court and did not go to the Court of Appeals. The case did not go to the Court of Appeals and went directly to the Supreme Court. In such a way, the case was extremely important for the development of the Constitutional rights and norms. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the Marbury v. Madison case provoked numerous controversies. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the Marshall’s opinion on the case, which insisted on the necessity of discharging the case. Nevertheless, the court ruling defined the further development of the US legislation and prevented the emergence of unconstitutional laws.
First of all, it is worth mentioning the fact that the case was related to the appointment of several statesmen in the last days of the Presidency of John Adams. His decision to appoint statesmen in the last moments of his presidency evoked a number of legal issues and strong opposition from the part of his opponents. In response to the appointments, opponents filed lawsuit to the Supreme Court to discharge the decision being taken by the President. Opponents of Adams challenged his decision and the Supreme Court had to take the decision on the case.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the critics argued that the case should go to the Court of Appeals that was a normal procedure for cases related to the violation of legal norms and insufficient decision being taken by the court at the lower level. Marbury v. Madison case involved the US President and Congress and could not be trailed in the average court at the local level. Instead, it has to be trialed at the level of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals.
In this regard, the case went to the Supreme Court instead of the Court of Appeals. When Marbury filed his petition, he had three options. First, he could file a lawsuit directly in the Supreme Court. Second, he could file in a lower federal court, such as district court, appealing all the way up to the Supreme Court. Third, he could file in a state court appealing all the way through the state’s highest courts and then appealing to the Supreme Court on an issue of a federal law. Marbury filed the lawsuit in the Supreme Court. Because Marbury filed his petition for the writ of mandamus directly in the Supreme Court, the Court needed to be able to exercise original jurisdiction over the case in order to have the power to hear it.
In result of the Marbury’s petition, the Supreme Court ruled and discharged statesmen appointed by President Adams. The Court’s motion was supported by affidavits of the following facts: that notice of this motion had been given to Mr. Madison; that Mr. Adams, the late President of the United States, nominated the applicants to the Senate for their advice and consent to be appointed justices of the peace of the District of Columbia; that the Senate advised and consented to the appointments; that commissions in due form were signed by the said President appointing them justices, &c., and that the seal of the United States was in due form affixed to the said commissions by the Secretary of State; that the applicants have requested Mr. Madison to deliver them their said commissions, who has not complied with that request; and that their said commissions are withheld from them; that the applicants have made application to Mr. Madison as Secretary of State of the United States at his office, for information whether the commissions were signed and sealed as aforesaid; that explicit and satisfactory information has not been given in answer to that inquiry, either by the Secretary of State or any officer in the Department of State; that application has been made to the secretary of the Senate for a certificate of the nomination of the applicants, and of the advice and consent of the Senate, who has declined giving such a certificate; whereupon a rule was made to show cause on the fourth day of this term. This rule having been duly served
However, Marshall had the opinion disagreeing with the general ruling of the Court. Marshall focused on the criticism of procedures before taking the decision and in the course of filing the lawsuit. It appears from the affidavits that, in compliance with this law, a commission for William Marbury as a justice of peace for the County of Washington was signed by John Adams, then President of the United States, after which the seal of the United States was affixed to it, but the commission has never reached the person for whom it was made out (Irons, 130).
In order to determine whether he is entitled to this commission, it becomes necessary to inquire whether he has been appointed to the office. For if he has been appointed, the law continues him in office for five years, and he is entitled to the possession of those evidences of office, which, being completed, became his property (Irons, 132).
Eventually, Marshall concluded that 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 (Newmyer, 184). In such a way, Marshall insisted on the necessity of discharging of the Court’s ruling. Marshall considered the procedure of the violation of filing the lawsuit was violated and the case should pass through courts of the lower jurisdiction before filing the lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
In such a way, the Supreme Court’s decision has proved to be quite controversial. On the one hand, the Supreme Court took the decision on the ban of the unconstitutional decision and discharged the appointments of the President Adams. On the other hand, the Supreme Court’s ruling and the procedure of filing of the lawsuit were challengeable. In this regard, the opinion of Marshall reveals the full extent to which the case of Marbury v. Madison was controversial. To put it more precisely, the petition filed by Marbury could potentially go to courts of the lower jurisdiction and the Court of Appeals. In this regard, the Supreme Court’s ruling could be challenged on the ground of the violation of the procedure. However, the significance of the decision of the Supreme Court can hardly be underestimated because the Supreme Court’s ruling defined the first legal act as being unconstitutional. In such a way, the Supreme Court laid the foundation to the development of the constitutional legal acts and protection of constitutional rights and norms on the ground of court decisions. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Marbury v. Madison case laid the foundation to the development of legislation of the US and fundamental principles of the US democracy.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the development of the US legislation was influenced consistently by the Supreme Court’s decision on the case of Marbury v. Madison. In fact, the Supreme Court’s ruling was the first court ruling that discharged the legal act as being unconstitutional. In such a way, the Supreme Court defined the further development of the US legislation and democracy at large. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s ruling was highly controversial because the entire case of Marbury v. Madison could be challenged from the legal point because of the possible violation of legal procedures of filing the lawsuit to the Supreme Court, instead of filing to courts of lower jurisdictions and the Court of Appeals. In this regard, the Marshall’s opinion is particularly noteworthy and reveals the controversy of the act.
Irons, P. A People’s History of the Supreme Court. Penguin Books, 1999.
Newmyer, R. K. John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court. Louisiana State University Press, 2001.