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The Judiciary occupies the third branch of government and possesses the authority to declare acts of Congress and the President unconstitutional The power of judicial review derives not from the Constitution which contains no explicit reference to this authority but from a series of cases dating back to the late 1700s The case most frequently cited in connection with judicial review is the Supreme Courts 1803 decision in Marbury versus Madison It declares part of a federal statute null and void on the ground that it conflicted with the Constitution Chief Justice John Marshall articulated a detailed doctrine of judicial review He concluded that the Constitution implicitly grants to the Supreme Court the power to invalidate any law that violates the Constitution This particular court case effects the United States even today Under the administrations of Washington and his successor John Adams only members of the ruling Federalist Party were appointed to the bench and under the terms of the Constitution they held office for life during good behavior Thus when the opposing Republicans won the election of 1800 the Jeffersonians found that while they controlled the presidency and Congress the Federalists still dominated the judiciary One of the first acts of the new administration was to repeal the Judiciary Act of 1800 which had created a number of new judgeships Although President Adams had attempted to fill the vacancies prior to the end of his term a number of commissions had not been delivered and one of the appointees William Marbury sued Secretary of State James Madison to force him to deliver his commission as a justice of the peace The new chief justice John Marshall understood that if the Court awarded Marbury a writ of mandamus an order to force Madison to deliver the commission the Jefferson administration would ignore it and significantly weaken the authority of the courts On the other hand if the Court denied the writ it might
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