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Case Studies of John Marshall

Case Studies of John Marshall

Marbury vs. Madison

At the time, two political parties, the Federalists and the Republicans were competing for power in the federal government. Thus, when the Republican’s Thomas Jefferson won the election of 1800, they took control of Congress; however found that the Judiciary, that is the Supreme Court, was still dominated by the Federalists because the justices serve for life under good behavior. That is why President John Adams, a Federalist, tried to fill up the vacancies in the Supreme Court near the end of his term in order to secure the Federalist’s standing in the Judiciary branch. The Secretary of State during Adam’s administration was James Madison, a Republican. It was Madison’s job to deliver the President’s commissions to the appointees, one of who was William Marbury. Madison tried to delay the appointment in order to help the Republicans and thus Marbury, knowing of his appointment, sued Madison for failing to deliver his commission. John Marshall, the chief justice, awarded Marbury the writ of mandamus, which declared that Madison should have delivered the commission to Marshall. However, Marshall also declared that the Judiciary Act of 1789, which allowed the Supreme Court to impose the writ of mandamus, was in conflict with Article III of the Constitution, and thus void. This case is important that it defined the true power of the Supreme Court, as well as the Judiciary branch. It showed that the courts have the power to declare the acts of Congress unconstitutional if they exceeded the rights given by the Constitution. Thus, it is important to recognize the courts as the arbiters of the Constitution, being the final authority to deem what it meant.

McCulloch vs. Maryland

Congress established the Second Bank of the United States in 1816. However, in 1819, the state of Maryland’s legislature imposed some taxes on the bank. James McCulloch, a cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank refused to pay the taxes and sued the state of Maryland for unconstitutionally interfering with the Congress’s powers of imposing taxes. The decision of the Supreme Court was in favor of McCulloch, declaring that the state of Maryland could not “tax the instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers.” This case is therefore significant in the fact that it limited state rights by addressing that congress, as well as the federal government had certain powers...

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