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Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present
Street Law /
Landmark Cases /
Marbury v. Madison
It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. — Chief Justice John Marshall
At the end of President John Adams’ term, his Secretary of State failed to deliver documents commissioning William Marbury as Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia. Once President Thomas Jefferson was sworn in, in order to keep members of the opposing political party from taking office, he told James Madison, his Secretary of State, to not deliver the documents to Marbury. Marbury then sued James Madison asking the Supreme Court to issue a writ requiring him to deliver the documents necessary to officially make Marbury Justice of the Peace. The Marbury v. Madison decision resulted in establishment of the concept of judicial review.
These materials were developed for students of various skill levels, and teachers should choose the level that works best for their students. Answers to the background questions, vocabulary, and activities and can be found in the FOR TEACHERS ONLY tab under each case.
After The Case
* Answers to the background questions, vocabulary, and activities can be found in the FOR TEACHERS ONLY tab under each case.
Have students complete The Power of the Judicial Branch. Students can finish the questions for homework.
On the second day, discuss students' responses to the questions that accompany The Power of the Judicial Branch activity.
Begin with the Introductory Scenario.
Read the Background (•) as a class.
On the second day, discuss students' responses to the questions that accompany Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion as a class. Have students answer questions. Discuss responses.
On the third day, have students complete So, What's the Big Idea?.
Have students predict how different individuals, such as Republicans may have reacted to the outcome. Complete the Thomas Jefferson's Reaction activity.
On the fourth day, complete Chief Justice John Marshall's Legacy.
The 200th Anniversary of Marbury v. Madison: The Reasons We Should Still Care About the Decision, and The Lingering Questions It Left Behind
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