Marbury v. Madison

5 U.S. 137 (1803)


William Marbury (P) was appointed as justice of the peace by President John Adams on the President's last day in office. The Federalists were attempting to take control of the federal judiciary by creating sixteen new circuit judges and forty-two positions of justices of the peace in the District of Columbia. These commissions were signed and sealed by the acting Secretary of State, John Marshall, but they were not delivered by the end of the day. The new President, Thomas Jefferson, refused to deliver the commissions, claiming that they were nullities because they were not delivered when they left the executive branch. P brought a writ of mandamus to the Supreme Court to force Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison (D), to deliver the commissions.