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Marbury v. Madison

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The case of Marbury v. Madison (1803) has been described as “epochal”, and for good reason. The case of Marbury v. Madison established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. Judicial review is the ability of the Supreme Court to “review a law or an official act of government employee or agent for constitutionality or for the violation of basic principles of justice.” This case directly shaped the future of the American public in a positive way: by making decisions that are lawfully correct and in the best interest of the public. This also had some short-term and long-term ramifications, including the decision that declared the legality of the Louisiana Purchase, the single act that doubled the size of the United States and laid the foundation for a future superpower.

The most significant short-term effect of the decision made in Marbury v. Madison was the fact that it greatly magnified the court’s authority and opinion, though it can be debated that this is also a long-term effect. Another short-term effect is the fact that the decision was a major slap at the Jeffersonians, who were very thirsty to prevent such a thing and to remove any traces of a Federalist influence in court, despite the fact that Jefferson flip-flopped on his political views several times later on. As a result of that, the Jeffersonians attempted to impeach Samuel Chase, a Federalist judge serving on the Supreme Court, because he spoke out against the Republicans. Though he was found not guilty of the charges brought against him (high crimes and misdemeanors), he became deeply unpopular and scorned by the public. The short-term effects of the decision in Madison v. Marbury were certainly important, the long-term effects certainly outweigh them.

Another significant effect of the decision in the Marbury v. Madison case was the decision that confirmed the legality of the Louisiana Purchase of America from France in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase was the act that doubled the size of the United States and laid the foundation for a future superpower. As a result of the Louisiana Purchase, several positive and negative events arose. Obviously, the positive thing was the fact that the United States was now doubled in size and major economical gains were in favor of the United States, including the richest river valley in the world and rights to use the Mississippi river by farmers to float their goods to awaiting oceangoing vessels. The negative thing was the reaction of the Federalists, who consistently claimed that there was no constitutional warrant in the purchase. The main reason for this was their fear of getting outvoted by the soon-to-be created states. Though some Federalists states threatened to secede from the union, their claims were ultimately not taken seriously and were overlooked. These ramifications were extremely important, and more cases followed in which the power of judicial review was used.

In the modern world, the power of judicial review is still widely used. A great example of this is when a Detroit Federal judge declared President George W. Bush’s and the NSA’s unauthorized international spying program unconstitutional. The reason for this is because the individual rights of a person granted in the first and fourth amendment of the American constitution are violated. There are numerous cases in existence that have shaped out society to make it as fair and just as possible. Simply put, each decision is important because it had made America what it is and will surely mold our future in an equally beneficial way.

In the case of Marbury v. Madison, Marshall “inserted the keystone into the arch that supports the tremendous power of the Supreme Court in American life.” This case was a landmark event in American history because it granted the Supreme Court the major power that is judicial review, which allows it to make decisions that promote the proper maintenance of individual rights and push towards fairness and justice. The case also presented some short and long-term ramifications, including the attempted impeachment of Samuel Chase and the decision allowing the Louisiana Purchase. As a result of judicial review, the United States has greatly benefitted: the land size doubled, we have made immense economic advancements, we have made major advances as a modern society, politically and right-wise. We will continue to move forward, guided by the light that is judicial review.


-Judicial review. (2007, January 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:14, January 29, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Judicial_review&oldid=103324481

-Bailey, Thomas A., David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant:

A History of the Republic. 11th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998.

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