Marbury v. Madison (1803)

First Exercise of Judicial Review. 

On this day in 1803, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Marbury v. Madison.  It is perhaps the most essential of the required AP Government Supreme Court cases because it was the Court’s first exercise of judicial review to check the Congress.  The concept and practice of judicial review existed prior to the court’s ruling in Marbury. Alexander Hamilton hinted at the idea in the Federalist Papers. But it took Chief John Marshall (depicted above) to assert the court’s authority. There’s no mention of “judicial review” in the U.S. Constitution but Marshall’s interpretation of a Congressional put the Supreme Court on equal footing with the other two branches. For a summary on the case and holding, see

Questions for Reflection:

1. How can the executive branch check the power of the Supreme Court?

2. How can Congress check the power of the Supreme Court?

3. Explain how Thomas Jefferson and his Republican Party won the battle but lost the war.


Photo/Image: John Marshall, Chief Justice 1801–1835