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The Federalist Party had been defeated in the election of 1800 John Adams a federalist decided to appoint several Federalist supporters as justices of the peace in the District of Columbia These were sometimes known as the Midnight Judges The previous Secretary of State John Marshall was told to deliver the commissions but he had left out 17 commissions before Thomas Jefferson the newly elected president was inaugurated Once Jefferson became president he told the current Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver the remaining commissions William Marbury was one of the 17 that did not receive his commissions In response he decided to sue Madison Through a 4 - 0 unanimous vote the court ruled against Madison ordering him to deliver Marburys commission Despite this when asked from the court for Madison to deliver Marburys commission the court rejected his request It is later discovered that it is unconstitutional for the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus or a court order through the Judiciary Act of 1789 which established a federal district court for each state Chief Justice Marshall wanted the Court to be able to decide if laws passed by Congress were constitutional Whether the Court had this power of judicial review the power to decide if laws made by congress are allowed by the constitution had not yet been decided Marshall posed the question before the Court in three parts in order to discuss judicial review Marshalls cleverly written option excused the Supreme Court from hearing lawsuits such as Marburys before lower courts had heard them Marshall accomplished this by claiming for the Court of the power of judicial review The court ruled that Marbury receive the commission issued by the former president John Adams Despite the fact that Adams is not in office he did assign the commissions during his presidency and was reinforced by the previous Secretary of State Therefore commissions from a president legally bounded Marburys
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