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The Supreme Court, under John Marshall, had a great influence on the development of the powers of our present day government. John Marshall's court was responsible for greatly increasing the powers of the Supreme Court and the Federal Government.
The Supreme Court of the early 1800's was nothing like it is today. The early Supreme Court didn't seem like it fit in well with the rest of the Government. But as we know that was destined to change. The man who changed the powers of the Court and of the Federal Government was John Marshall.
John Marshall's life began in Virginia, in 1755. His family lived way out in the country. He was eventually sent to Archibald Campbell's academy. On returning home he read Commentaries on the Laws of England by Blackstone. This book is what probably caused him to become a lawyer. Then his life took a big turn when he was elected a Justice.1 During his time as a Chief Justice he presided over 1,215 cases. His landmark decisions have had a lasting affect on the Court and Government of today.2
During the time when John Marshall was Chief Justice the cases brought before the Supreme Court established how much power the Supreme Court was to have. Just two years after his appointment as Chief Justice, John Marshall was to decide the first of many important cases. This first case was Marbury v. Madison.3
The case of Marbury v. Madison originated when the outgoing Federalist President, John Adams, appointed over 50 men to judicial positions at the very last minute. Then the Senate voted on, and confirmed these appointees, and President Adams signed their confirmations of office. Then John Marshall, who was the outgoing Secretary of State, stamped them with the seal of the United States. But Marshall, because of the rush, overlooked sending the commissions of the justices of peace. Then the new President, Thomas Jefferson, told his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to send out the commissions. One of the men who did not get his commission for justice of the peace was William Marbury.4
William Marbury then sought a writ of Mandamus from the Supreme Court, to get Madison to deliver the commissions he was withholding. Marbury had taken the action directly to the Supreme Court through section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which gave the court the right to hear mandamus cases against federal officials without the case being tried in a lower court.5
Ten days after the case was heard, the Court through Marshall announced its decision. The main part of Marshall's decision was made up of answering three basic questions. The first question asked if Marbury had a right to get his commission as a justice of the peace. The second question was could Marbury get a writ of mandamus to make Madison deliver his commission. And the last question asked was could the Court issue this order.6
The answer to the first question was yes, because the president had signed the commission, and the seal of the United States had been put on it. And Marbury could get a writ of mandamus to make Madison deliver the
Names mentioned in this term paper
John Marshall, Barbara S. John Marshall, Marshall, Chief Justice, John Marshall,
Organizations referenced in this paper
Supreme Court, Congress, Federal Government,
Keywords mentioned in this paper
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