Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
William Marbury and other justice of the peace nominees filed suit pursuant to the Judiciary Act of 1792 directly with the Supreme Court of the United States seeking a writ of mandamus from the Court that would require Secretary of State James Madison to deliver their commissions as justices of the peace previously signed by the President.
Whether the Supreme Court may issue a writ of mandamus to Secretary of State James Madison compelling him to deliver the signed justice of the peace commissions.
John Adams, as president of the United States, nominated Marbury and others to the position of justice of the peace for the District of Columbia. The Senate approved and consented to the nominees. The President signed the commissions as required by law and the Secretary of State at the time affixed the Presidential seal as required by law. James Madison as current Secretary of State refused to deliver these signed commissions to Marbury and the other nominees.
Statement of the Rule:
A law in conflict with the Constitution is void and it is the duty of the Court to determine if such a conflict exists.
Marbury is not entitled to a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court requiring Madison to deliver the justice of the peace commission.
The section of the Judiciary Act of 1792 (passed by Congress) relied on by Marbury which granted the Supreme Court the right to issue writs of mandamus to government officials was unconstitutional and therefore is void and of no effect. The Constitution only gives the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in cases “affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls and those in which a state shall be a party. In all other cases, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction.” It is the duty of the Court to interpret the Constitution and its meaning. In this case, because the Court determined that the section...