William Marbury was appointed to be a Justice of the Peace in the court system of the District of Columbia late in the presidency of John Adams. Under the new president, Thomas Jefferson, his Secretary of State, James Madison, refused to deliver the papers authorizing Marbury to assume his position. Marbury submitted an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, requesting the Court to force Madison to complete the procedures needed for him to assume his new position.
The Supreme Court found that Madison's refusal to deliver the commissioning papers for Marbury's appointment was illegal. However, the Court ruled that Marbury's request was unconstitutional, as it requested the Court to become involved in matters beyond its scope of authority as established by the Constitution.