The judiciary in the US, unlike that of other countries, is empowered to appraise the acts of the legislature and the executive.
It is commonplace in the US for federal and state courts to scrutinize orders or acts of the executive and the laws enacted by the legislature, in order to determine infringement of the US Constitution. The final interpreter of legislation in the US is the US Supreme Court, whose reviews have the US Constitution as the basis. In a similar manner the state supreme courts conduct reviews on the basis of the state and US constitutions. If the court’s finding is that the law violates the constitution, then such law becomes unenforceable and requires a constitutional amendment to be made enforceable (Judicial Review. In World of Criminal Justice, Gale ).The judiciary being seized with the matter of the importance of interfering with the executive and legislature only when essential, practices a number of self controls, which constitute the concept of judicial self restraint. This concept has great bearing on issues in which a judicial review is conducted (Judicial Review.
In World of Criminal Justice, Gale ).Judicial review was conspicuous by its absence in the US Constitution. This lacuna was addressed in 1803, with the Marbury judgment. In this case, the US Supreme Court declared that an act of Congress, which contradicted the US Constitution, was invalid. In 1800, President John Adams lost in the US elections and Thomas Jefferson was elected as the new President. Although elected in February, Jefferson did not assume office till March of 1801.
John Adams as the acting President enacted the Judiciary Act of 1801, which empowered the President to appoint fifty – eight new Judges and he instructed the Chief secretary of State, John Marshall, to complete that exercise. After assuming office, Jefferson instructed the new secretary of state, James Madison to rescind seventeen peace commissions and Marbury was one of the justices whose commission had been withheld. Subsequently, Marbury challenged Madison’s decision and filed a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court of the US (William Marbury V. James Madison, Secretary Of State Of The United States).Article III of the Constitution states that the Supreme Court has only appellate jurisdiction and that it is subject to the Congressional exceptions and regulations. There was no clear definition of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in the Constitution and this original jurisdiction was independent of any regulations made by Congress.
At that time the chief justice of the Supreme Court was John Marshall who had established the peace commissions in accordance with the orders of President John Adams (Grossman).Marshall refused to issue this writ and there was no dissenting judge. His contention was that the power to issue a writ of mandamus had not been accorded to the US Supreme Court by the US Constitution. Although, the Judiciary Act permitted the issue of such writs, it contravened the US Constitution and was therefore void (Section 13 of the Judiciary Act , 1789).Despite the fact that this decision seemed to curtail the Court’s power, it had a far reaching consequence, namely it established the doctrine that decisions regarding the interpretation of the law of the land were the sole province of the Judiciary. With this decision, the US Supreme Court became ultimate authority in deciding whether any piece of legislation made by Congress, from the perspective of the US Constitution, was valid or not (MARBURY V.
MADISON , 1991).The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court approached this petition from three phases. In the first phase he scrutinized what had transpired and opined on the basis of that examination that Marbury was entitled to receive the commission. He also opined at that stage of the proceedings that denial of such a commission was tantamount to the infringement of his inalienable rights.In the second step of the proceedings he studied the various legal remedies that were available to Marbury.
Marshall’s analysis disclosed that Marbury could rightfully receive the writ of mandamus as per the provisions of the Judiciary Act.The final step in this scrutiny dealt with the Constitutional validity of issuing such a writ of mandamus by the Supreme Court. It was at this final stage in the judicial analysis that Marshall correctly pointed out that despite the fact that the Judiciary Act permitted the issuance of a writ of mandamus, the US Constitution stated that only in the context of ambassadors, public ministers, consuls and where the State was a party the Supreme Court had original jurisdiction and that under every other circumstance, it only had appellate jurisdiction (Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 2 The Constituiton of the United States).Accordingly, Marbury was precluded from approaching the US Supreme Court for issuance of a writ of mandamus. He should have approached a federal district court and if he had failed to obtain a writ of mandamus there he should have appealed to the US Supreme Court. This was due to the reason that the US Supreme Court had appellate jurisdiction in such cases and not original jurisdiction (Marbury v.
Madison ). The most important principle established in this case was that neither the Judiciary Act nor any other act of Congress could violate the Constitution of the United States of America and Marshall successfully established the power of Supreme Court in judicial review (Grossman).It was patently obvious that the Judiciary Act infringed the US Constitution, therefore it was void. The petition for procuring a writ of mandamus, since it had been directly made in the US Supreme Court, was consequently not allowed.
This petition should have been made on appeal for it to have been admitted. With this decision, the doctrine of judicial review in the United States of America made its debut (Marbury v. Madison , 1999).The decision of the Supreme Court, in the famous case of Dred Scott made slavery legal throughout the United States.
The ruling in this case further escalated the severe differences, which resulted in the Civil War. The Court had held that a Negro had no legitimate rights as a US citizen. Taney and other judges proclaimed that the Missouri compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional and the Congress had not been empowered by the Constitution to enact laws that banned slavery in all the territories of the US.
The Missouri Compromise attempt to prohibit slavery in Louisiana Purchase brought about very strong antislavery reactions in the North and paved the way for the American Civil War of 1861 (Important Cases. In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law).It was established that as such the Congress should not enact legislations that divest a citizen of the US of his life, property or liberty on the grounds that he hailed from some other State or Territory of the US and who had never committed any offence against the law. There should be due process of law while the Congress enacts such laws. Most of the judges being southerners, the case was decided in favor of the slave owners and Scott was declared to be a slave and the property of his lawful owner. The Missouri Compromise, which had preserved the political stand on slavery for over forty years, was annulled (Scott v. Sandford. In Great American Court Cases, Gale).
In this case Justice Taney gave a highly controversial decision, which is perhaps unparalleled in the history of the US Supreme Court. Dred Scott had filed a suit with the Court on the basis of his residency in a territory where the slavery was banned and sought to be freed. Taney disallowed this plea of Dred Scott and declared that as he was a slave he did not have any rights and was therefore precluded from bringing a suit in the federal court, since he could not be treated as a citizen of the US.
Taney also declared that the Congress was not empowered to prohibit slavery (Segregation and Desegregation. In Great American Court Cases, Gale).The connotation of the term judicial review is that the courts of the United States of America are empowered to rescind legislation that contravenes the US Constitution. With the decision in Marbury case, the all important principle of judicial review was established in the United States, which provided the US judiciary with an extremely powerful weapon. The consequence of the doctrine of judicial review has been that attempts to ride roughshod over the rights of the citizens have been severely curtailed and a very cogent example is the curtailment of governmental activities that violate civil rights (Marbury v. Madison , 1999).