The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics

The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics

The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics

The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics

Excerpt

The least dangerous branch of the American government is the most extraordinarily powerful court of law the world has ever known. The power which distinguishes the Supreme Court of the United States is that of constitutional review of actions of the other branches of government, federal and state. Curiously enough, this power of judicial review, as it is called, does not derive from any explicit constitutional command. The authority to determine the meaning and application of a written constitution is nowhere defined or even mentioned in the document itself. This is not to say that the power of judicial review cannot be placed in the Constitution; merely that it cannot be found there.

Marbury v. Madison

Congress was created very nearly full blown by the Constitution itself. The vast possibilities of the presidency were relatively easy to perceive and soon, inevitably, materialized. But the institution of the judiciary needed to be summoned up out of the constitutional vapors, shaped, and maintained; and the Great Chief Justice, John Marshall -- not singlehanded, but first and foremost -- was there to do it and did. If any social process can be said to have been "done" at a given time and by a given act, it is Marshall's achievement. The time was 1803; the act was the decision in the case of Marbury v. Madison .

William Marbury's law suit against Secretary of State Madison . . .

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