US History/Napp Name: __________________
“Before their term expired, the Federalist majority in Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1801. This act created 16 new federal judges. Before leaving office, President Adams appointed Federalists to these positions. These judges were nicknamed ‘midnight judges’ because Adams supposedly signed appointments until midnight on his last day in office.
The most important judicial appointment President Adams made before leaving office was to choose John Marshall as Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall served as Chief Justice for 34 years. He was more responsible than other justice for making the Supreme Court into a powerful, independent branch of the federal government.
Initially, the Supreme Court was a very minor body, but its role began to change in 1803 with the case of Marbury v. Madison. William Marbury was a Federalist who had been appointed justice of the peace in Washington, D.C., shortly before Adams left office. Although Adams had signed Marbury’s appointment, the documents were not delivered before Adams left office. The new Secretary of State, James Madison, was supposed to deliver the documents, but Jefferson told him to hold them, hoping Marbury would quit and allow Jefferson to appoint a Republican to the job.
Instead, Marbury asked the Supreme Court to issue a court order telling Madison to deliver the documents. Marbury based this request on the Judiciary Act of 1789, which stipulated that requests for federal court orders go directly to the Supreme Court. In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Chief Justice Marshall that the Court could not issue the order.
Marshall explained that the Court could not issue the order because it had no jurisdiction. The Constitution, Marshall pointed out, was very specific about the kind of cases that could be taken directly to the Supreme Court. A request for a court order was not one of those cases, making that section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional and invalid. The decision strengthened the Supreme Court because it asserted the Court’s right of judicial review, the power to decide whether laws passed by Congress were constitutional and to strike down those laws that were not.” ~ The American Vision
1. The decision in Marbury v. Madison (1803) was significant because it established that the Supreme Court
(1) had limited powers over state courts
(2) had the power to choose its own members
(3) could declare a federal law unconstitutional
(4) could impeach the president and other government officials
3. The establishment of judicial review in Marbury v. Madison (1803) gave federal courts the authority to
(1) decide whether a law is constitutional
(2) create lower courts
(3) approve foreign treaties
(4) appoint judges to lifetime terms
4. Which power did the United States Supreme Court gain through the Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison?
(1) judicial review
(2) hearing appeals from lower federal courts
(3) deciding cases involving two or more states
(4) judicial independence through lifetime
5. The power of judicial review allows the Supreme Court to
(1) repeal amendments to the Constitution
(2) determine the constitutionality of a law
(3) break tie votes in the electoral college
(4) impeach the president and other high-level officials
6. Which action can be taken by the United States Supreme Court to illustrate the concept that the Constitution is “the supreme law of the land”?
(1) hiring new federal judges
(2) voting articles of impeachment
(3) declaring a state law unconstitutional
(4) rejecting a presidential nomination to the cabinet
7. When John Marshall was Chief Justice, United States Supreme Court decisions tended to strengthen the power of
(1) the National Government
(2) state and local governments
(3) labor unions
(4) trusts and monopolies
2. Which headline illustrates the use of judicial review?
(1) “Congress Passes a Civil Rights Bill”
(2) “Conference Committee Meets to Finalize Budget”
(3) “New York State’s Reapportionment Plan Ruled Unconstitutional”
(4) “President Signs SALT Agreement with Russia”
8. What was the result of many of the Supreme Court decisions made under Chief Justice John Marshall between 1801 and 1835?
(1) The system of slavery was weakened.
(2) The federal government was strengthened.
(3) The rights of workers were supported.
(4) Antitrust laws were upheld.
9. “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is…” ~Marbury v. Madison, 1803
This statement expresses the Supreme Court’s claim that courts must abide by a (1) strict interpretation of the Constitution
(2) federal laws must be approved by the courts before they can take effect
(3) the judicial branch must have a role in the amendment process
(4) the power of judicial review belongs to the courts
10. The case of Marbury v. Madison concerned
(1) Foreign alliances.
(2) “Midnight justices.”
(3) “High crimes and misdemeanors.”
(4) The National Bank.
(5) The election of 1800.
11. Why did the Supreme Court declare Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional and invalid?
(1) The Constitution was very specific about the kind of cases that could be taken directly to the Supreme Court
(2) Chief Justice Marshall was a political enemy of President Adams
(3) The Act gave Congress the right of judicial review
(4) The Constitution prohibited the appointment of “midnight judges”
“John Marshal served as chief justice of the United States from 1801 to 1835. He was remarkably successful in establishing the Supreme Court as an independent and influential force in the federal government. Two more of Marshall’s most important decisions are summarized here.” ~ Adapted from U.S. History and Government
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
- At issue in this case was whether a state government (Maryland) could collect a tax from a bank that had been chartered by the U.S. government.
- Marshall argued that the states could not tax a federal agency because, according to the Constitution, the federal government was meant to be supreme.
- On another question, Marshall argued that Congress’s powers could be interpreted loosely to authorize the creation of a national bank.
- This case established the idea that a state law could be nullified (declared void) if it was found to be in conflict with a federal law.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
- At issue in this case was whether a state (New York) could grant to one steamship company the exclusive right to operate an interstate waterway (the Hudson River).
- In his decision Marshall stated that trade is commerce and that commerce between states was controlled by the U.S. Congress.
- Therefore, New York’s law was invalid.
- The ruling clarified the concept of interstate commerce and increased the authority of the federal government to regulate businesses that operate in more than one state.
1. The lasting significance of Gibbons v. Ogden was that it
(1) Opened the way for steamboat travel on the Mississippi.
(2) Confirmed the state’s right to regulate commerce.
(3) Made peace between the Court and the Adams administration.
(4) Ruled that contracts could easily be violated.
(5) Freed transportation systems from restraints by the states.
2. John Marshall’s influence on the Supreme Court was so great that he
(1) Was able to get whomever he wanted appointed to the bench.
(2) More than anyone other than the framers themselves molded the development of the Constitution.
(3) Was able to ignore the other justices.
(4) Could single-handedly overturn acts of Congress.
(5) Could ignore the Constitution.
3. What was one result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)?
(1) The power of the federal government over interstate commerce was strengthened.
(2) The rights of accused individuals were expanded.
(3) The power of the judicial branch was limited.
(4) The Court declined to hear cases involving disputes between states.
“A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.”
~ Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78
“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”
~ Chief Justice John Marshall, in Marbury v. Madison, 1803
“Who was the most influential American of the founding era of the United States: George Washington, due to his military and political achievements? Thomas Jefferson, for the Declaration of Independence and the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase? James Madison, for his ‘writing’ of the Constitution and subsequent service in the House of Representatives, as Secretary of State, and President? Or might it be John Marshall, who served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 34 years, longer than any other Chief Justice, and whose ground-breaking decisions still affect the lives of every American?
It is safe to say that as Madison was the ‘father’ of the Constitution and Washington the ‘father of the powers of the Presidency,’ Marshall was the ‘father of the Supreme Court,’ almost single-handedly clarifying its powers.
What if the Supreme Court did not have the power to review laws or executive decisions, to overturn those that are ‘unconstitutional’? How different might life be in the United States? Until 1803, it was not a foregone conclusion that the Supreme Court of the United States would have that power, despite the fact that judicial review had its origins in early seventeen-century England and had been asserted by James Otis in the period leading up to the American Revolution. A relatively minor lawsuit led to one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in American history, Marbury v. Madison, laying the foundation for the Court’s ability to render its decisions about laws and actions. In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court claimed the power to review acts of Congress and the president and deem them unconstitutional, creating a precedent for an American process of judicial review.
Through the decision of Chief Justice John Marshall, then, the court assumed the powers with which it has since played such a vital role in American life.”
~ The National Endowment for the Humanities
Critical Thinking Prompt:
How did Chief Justice John Marshall change the role of the Supreme Court in American History and why is Chief Justice John Marshall considered one of the most influential Americans?