19) Marbury vs Madison Case Digest

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U.S. Supreme Court Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 1 Cranch 137 137 (1803) Marbury v. Madison 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 Facts: A. Towards the end of his presidency, John Adams appointed several justices of peace among whom is William Marbury. B. Before his term officially ended, John Adams signed the commission which appoints Marbury under the Organic Act, a Justice of Peace for the County of Washington in the District of Columbia. The seal of the United States, affixed thereto by the Secretary of State, is conclusive testimony of the verity of the signature, and of the completion of the appointment.

C. The commission of Marbury, though signed and sealed, was not delivered and was instead withheld by James Madison, the Secretary of State of the United States. Marbury and other applicants made applications, however the respondent has failed to give satisfactory answers to the inquiry.

D. Marbury has applied for a Writ of Mandamus to deliver his commission. Issues: In the order in which the Court has viewed this subject, the following questions have been considered and decided. 1. Has the applicant a right to the commission he demands? 2. If he has a right, and that right has been violated, do the laws of his country afford him a remedy? 3. If they do afford him a remedy, is it a mandamus issuing from this court? Held: Application for the Writ of Mandamus was denied. Marbury does not get his commission. The commission of Marbury was signed by the then-President and sealed by the Secretary of State and was thus appointed in accordance with the law and vested with legal rights which are protected by the laws of his country. Conclusively, Marbury has legal right to the commission he demands. Because Marbury has consequent right to the commission, a refusal to deliver which is a plain violation of that right, for which the laws of his country afford him a remedy. The remedy however, depends on: 1) The nature of the writ applied for, and 2) The power of this court.

The constitution vests the whole judicial power of the US to the Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress shall, from time to time, ordain and establish. Also, the act to establish the judicial courts of the United States authorizes the Supreme Court to issue Writs of Mandamus even against the Secretary of State,

because he is a person holding office under the authority of the United States. However, to enable this court then to issue a mandamus, it must be shown to be an exercise of appellate jurisdiction, or to be necessary to enable them to exercise appellate jurisdiction. It is the essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects the proceedings in a cause already instituted, and does not create that case. Although, therefore, a mandamus may be directed to courts, yet to issue such a writ to an officer for the delivery of a paper is, in effect, the same as to sustain an original action for that paper, and therefore seems not to belong to appellate, but to original jurisdiction. Thus, in this case, the Act establishing the judicial courts of the United States to issue writs of mandamus to public officers is not warranted by the Constitution. In this case, there is conflict between the Act and the Constitution. The Constitution, being the Supreme Law of the Land, must be upheld thus rendering the Act repugnant and void. The writ of mandamus cannot be carried out for that reason.

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