Marbury v. Madison

(1803)

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Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Marshall's opinion for the Court opens with a brief recital of the legal history of the case. During its previous term, the Court had handed down a ruling requiring Secretary of State James Madison to “show cause” or offer evidence as to why the Court should not issue a writ of mandamus compelling him to deliver the commission making William Marbury a justice of the peace for the District of Columbia. Because Madison had failed to produce such...