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What Case Established Judicial Review?

United States Supreme Court
Marbury v. Madison established judicial review in the United States.

Marbury v. Madison is one of the most important cases in the history of judicial review in the United States. It limits Congressional power and allows judges to declare legislation unconstitutional.

The power of judicial review is not confined to the constitution but has been used to limit the powers of both Congress and the executive branch.

This article will explore the cases that established judicial review in the United States and how these decisions have affected our lives.

What case established judicial review?

Judicial review is the power of the courts to declare laws or executive actions unconstitutional. In the United States, this power is vested in the Supreme Court and has been used numerous times to invalidate laws passed by Congress or actions taken by the President.

The concept of judicial review did not originate in the United States, but was first established in England in the 17th century.

However, the American form of judicial review is significantly different from its British counterpart. In England, judicial review is only used to determine whether a particular law is consistent with statutes or other laws that have been previously enacted. 

On the other hand, American courts have broadened the scope of judicial review to include challenges to any governmental action that violates the constitution.

Chief Justice John Marshall first articulated the doctrine of judicial review in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison. In that case, Marshall wrote that it was “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” 

Subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court have reaffirmed this principle, and it remains an important part of American constitutional law today.

Key Cases That Established Judicial Review in the USA

McCulloch v. Maryland

In McCulloch v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held that the federal government could create a national bank, but states cannot directly resist a law passed by Congress. This decision affirmed the supremacy of Congress in legal disputes with states and affirmed that it is not in the states’ interest to tax a national bank.

Federal Reserve bank in Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

The reasoning for this decision is that the power to tax involves the power to destroy, and the Maryland legislature’s taxing of the Bank of the United States was unconstitutional.

In McCulloch v. Maryland, James William McCulloch, the cashier of the Second Bank of the United States in Baltimore, issued unstamped bank notes to a Baltimore resident. John James, a bank informer, wanted to collect half of the fine.

The Second Bank of the United States, represented by Daniel Webster, argued that the constitution is silent on the matter of banks. In contrast, Maryland argued that the constitution does not grant Congress the power to create banks. The Supreme Court rejected the Second Bank’s arguments, upholding Maryland’s judgment.

Birthing the administrative state

The McCulloch decision also established the administrative state, which employs an extensive professional class to oversee various aspects of American life. It also gave birth to labor regulators and environmental agencies. Although McCulloch was a landmark case, some of Webster’s arguments were outdated.

In the long run, the decision may have profoundly impacted the judicial review process in the United States.

The Marbury case supports the aggressive judicial review, equating to the invalidation of the government’s actions. 

Federal Reserve, San Francisco
Federal Reserve, San Francisco.

However, it offers little guidance on how courts should conduct their review. Furthermore, the opinion does not attempt to justify its lack of deference to the First Congress, suggesting that the court is motivated by partisan concerns.

An important precedent

While the Marbury case established the principle of judicial review, the decision in McCulloch v Maryland has proven to be an even more important precedent.

The case involved a constitutional question of great public importance. It involved the sovereignty of the United States and the state of Maryland.

The United States government erroneously directed the attorney general to appear on behalf of the plaintiff. Still, the court overruled the general rule requiring one attorney to appear for the plaintiff in an error case.

Gibbons v. Ogden

In 1824, the Supreme Court ruled in Gibbons v. Ogden, a landmark case that reaffirmed the power of judicial review.

Segregation in America
The Gibbons v. Ogden case determined that racial discrimination was harmful to the nation’s economy.

The case was crucial in the development of American constitutional law. The Gibbons decision was a major pillar in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which argued that racial discrimination by private companies was harmful to the nation’s economy. Thus the federal government had the power to regulate it.

In Gibbons v. Ogden, Aaron Ogden filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery of New York, asking that the state be prohibited from operating a steamboat within a thousand feet of a school.

While Gibbons was unsuccessful, he appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the court ruled that the Commerce Clause granted Congress exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce.

Expansion of congressional powers

The ruling of Gibbons v. Ogden set the stage for the expansion of congressional powers and reinstated the Commerce Clause as the supreme law. It also overturned state laws that regulated in-state commercial activities.

In 1824, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Gibbons v. Ogden. Gibbons argued that New York’s steamboat monopoly violated the Commerce Clause and thus invalidated Ogden’s steamboat monopoly.

Thomas Gibbons argued that the federal government had exclusive power over interstate commerce, and the state had no right to intervene.

Gibbons appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. This landmark case established judicial review in America. It also set a precedent for what happens to the case when Congress fails to meet its responsibilities.

A federal license trumped a state-based grant, and Chief Justice John Marshall interpreted the Commerce Clause to support this decision. This decision paved the way for the judicial system in the U.S.

Wickard v. Filburn

In Wickard v. Filburn, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress had the authority to regulate in-state activities under the Commerce Clause

Shipping containers
The Supreme Court took a broad view of the Commerce Clause under judicial review.

This precedent would greatly impact later cases, including Gonzales v. Raich, in which the federal government had to regulate the production of homegrown wheat. It is important to remember that the government cannot regulate a state’s activities without the state’s consent.

This case is considered a milestone in the history of judicial review in the United States. The Supreme Court interpreted the Commerce Clause in a way that had never been seen before, establishing a broad framework for congressional regulation of economic activity.

It was not until 1995 that a major federal law was struck down on commerce clause grounds. However, in recent years, the court has upheld federal laws against excessive food production, including regulating the price of corn and wheat.

As a general rule

This principle has been applied to many cases, including Wickard v. Filburn. Its underlying reasoning did not stand up to scrutiny. Many things would be disrupting if “everyone” did them, so the courts construed Wickard v. Filburn as a “general rule.”

In this case, the farmer in Ohio had harvested more wheat than his allotment. Filburn argued that his harvesting activities were personal and would not impact interstate commerce.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the regulation of wheat for human consumption imposed by the government did not violate the Commerce Clause. 

Filburn argued that the wheat he had harvested was destined for his consumption and not to regulate the price of wheat.

Cases Extending the Power of Judicial Review After Marbury v. Madison

Since Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court has widened the scope of judicial review, declaring certain laws or actions unconstitutional. In that case, the Supreme Court debated the legitimacy of William Marbury’s commission, the Judiciary Act of 1789, and the supremacy clause, which declared that the constitution is supreme.

Jefferson Memorial
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson.

The Supreme Court ruled that these laws violated the constitution, thus denying the Marbury Commission.

The court’s power to review acts passed by Congress was established by the Marbury decision, which was issued by Chief Justice John Marshall on February 24, 1803, and laid out the philosophical and constitutional principles of judicial review.

The history of this important case begins with the presidential election of 1800. Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson won the election, and the United States Congress switched hands after John Adams‘ loss.

The principle of judicial review is one of the first things the Supreme Court enunciated. In Marbury v. Madison, the court established that the courts could review actions made by Congress, which was a necessary step for ensuring that the judiciary remained independent of the other branches. 

Hence, judicial review became a cornerstone of the American legal system.

How Has Judicial Review Been Used in America?

Since the adoption of the constitution, the Supreme Court has invalidated laws enacted by Congress on several occasions. In doing so, the court has asserted its power of judicial review, or the power to declare laws unconstitutional.

US Congress
The Supreme Court has struck down laws enacted by Congress on numerous occasions.

The doctrine of judicial review is not explicitly stated in the constitution, but it was articulated by Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison. In that case, Justice Marshall wrote that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

Since Marshall’s ruling, judicial review has been used on several occasions to strike down laws enacted by Congress.

In 1857, for example, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned slavery in the territories in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. And in 1896, the court struck down a law that required segregated railroad cars in Plessy v. Ferguson.

More recently, judicial review was used to strike down a federal law that banned same-sex marriage in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

While judicial review is not explicitly stated in the constitution, it has become an important part of America’s system of government.

What Are the Benefits of Judicial Review?

The benefits of judicial review are many. It is a safeguard against tyranny, protects individual rights, and promotes democracy.

  • Judicial review protects against tyranny because it ensures that the government acts within the bounds of the constitution. The constitution is a set of rules that limit the power of government. If the government tries to act outside of those limits, the court can strike down its action. This prevents the government from abusing its power.
  • Judicial review also protects individual rights. The Bill of Rights enshrines certain rights in the constitution, such as freedom of speech and religion. If the government tries to take away those rights, the judicial review gives people a way to fight back.
  • Finally, judicial review promotes democracy. The constitution gives all people equal protection under the law. If one group is treated unfairly, they can go to court and have their rights upheld. This ensures that everyone is treated equally and that democracy thrives.

What Are the Benefits of Judicial Review?

There are several potential drawbacks to judicial review. 

  • One is that it can lead to a power struggle between the different branches of government. 
  • Another is that it can be used to advance a particular political agenda. 
  • Finally, it can be difficult to predict how the courts will rule on a given issue, creating uncertainty and instability.

What Is the Future of Judicial Review in America?

The future of judicial review in America is likely to be one in which the courts are more willing to strike down laws and regulations that they deem to be unconstitutional. This trend has already been evident in several recent court decisions, and it is likely to continue in the years to come.

Judicial review looks set to continue to play a major role in American society in the future.

Several factors could contribute to this trend. 

  • First, the courts may become increasingly polarized along ideological lines, with more conservative justices taking a dim view of government regulatory power and more liberal justices being willing to uphold it. 
  • Second, the Supreme Court may become increasingly receptive to challenges to laws and regulations under the “Chevron doctrine,” which allows courts to strike down government actions that they believe are not based on a reasonable interpretation of the law.

Ultimately, the future of judicial review in America will depend on the makeup of the Supreme Court and the willingness of Congress to pass laws that curtail or limit the court’s judicial power.

If the current trend continues, we can expect to see more instances in which the courts strike down laws and regulations that they deem unconstitutional.

Judicial Power of the Supreme Court

In the United States, judicial review is the judicial power of the Supreme Court to declare a law or executive action unconstitutional. This power was established by the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803. 

In this Supreme Court case, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that the judicial branch had the power to strike down laws that conflicted with the constitution. This power has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court numerous times over the years, and it remains an important part of our system of government today.

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