How does Marbury v. Madison enhance the system of checks and balances?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The ruling in the Supreme Court case of Marbury v Madison enhanced the system of checks and balances. The writers of the Constitution were very concerned that the government would have too much power. They wanted the government to have enough power to run the country, but not to have too much power where that power could be abused. Thus, they developed two provisions that limited the government’s power. One provision, called separation of powers, gave each branch of government a different job to do. No branch could do everything by itself. The other provision, called checks and balances, allowed the branches to control each other. One way the courts can control Congress is by declaring laws illegal or unconstitutional. One of the main points in the decision in this court case is that it is acceptable for the Supreme Court to review laws to determine if they are unconstitutional. This power, called judicial review, was reinforced by the Supreme Court’s decision in this case.

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Marbury v Madison had a significant influence on the system of checks and balances applied on the federal and state governments. Through validation of the third article as contained in America’s constitution, the Marshall Court gave the Supreme Court the highest level of judicial power. Marshall ruled that the Supreme Court had the ultimate power to interpret the constitution as well as decide whether the acts of the other two arms of government were contrary to constitutional provisions or not.

In other words, Marbury v Madison initiated the principle of judicial review that gave the court the mandate to regulate the power of the executive and legislature. The court would regulate the power of the other two arms of government by preventing them from passing and implementing laws that infringe on the constitutional rights of the citizens. In fact, in 1803 for the first time, the Supreme Court declared an act of Congress unconstitutional.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Marbury v. Madison enhanced the system of checks and balances by giving the Supreme Court (judicial branch) a very strong check on the actions of the Congress (legislative branch).

The Constitution itself did not give the Supreme Court the power of judicial review.  It was silent on the issue of who would determine whether a law passed by Congress was consistent with the Constitution.  In Marbury, the Supreme Court took this power for itself.  By doing so, it gave itself a way to overrule the actions of Congress.  This created another strong check by one branch over another and enhanced the overall system of checks and balances.

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