Looking Back - John Marshall

January 20, 1801 – President John Adams appointed John Marshall Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Marshall remained in the position for over 34 years, making him the longest-serving Chief Justice. Chief Justice Marshall was perhaps best known for his opinion in Marbury v. Madison, the case that established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. Marbury sought a writ of mandamus from the United States Supreme Court to compel Madison, the then-Secretary of State, to deliver him the commission to which he was entitled. The Court disagreed, holding that Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which gave the Supreme Court the power to issue writs of mandamus in “cases warranted,” was void because it was in direct conflict with Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which limited the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to those cases specifically enumerated. Thus, the Court set a precedent making any law that conflicted with the Constitution of the United States void.

If you would like to read this case or learn more about it, you can go to the website of the Legal Information Institute  or visit the Harris County Law Library.