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Equal Justice Under the Law:
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Marbury v. Madison (1977) - 34 min
Dramatizations of historic decisions from the courtroom of America's great Chief Justice, John Marshall.
Who determines what the Constitution means—what is and is not constitutional?
In this 1803 case the Supreme Court established its responsibility to review the constitutionality of acts of Congress. President John Adams appointed Federalist William Marbury as justice of the peace, but failed to deliver Marbury's official commission before President Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans took over the administration.
Marbury asked the Supreme Court to order Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison, to deliver the commission. Marbury's demand precipitated a confrontation between Chief Justice Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson. The Supreme Court held that it did not have jurisdiction and declared that the law permitting the Court to hear the case was unconstitutional.