Why is Marbury v. Madison important in the American political system?

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The court case of Marbury v Madison was an important one in the American political system. This court case gave the Supreme Court the power to determine if laws passed by Congress were constitutional. This was a huge factor politically, because it served as another check on the power of Congress. Prior to this decision, there was no way that laws could be declared unconstitutional. Congress now had to consider if a proposed bill would meet the constitutionality test, which could potentially alter the wording of bills to ensure, if Congress passed them, the Supreme Court wouldn’t strike them down.

This power has frustrated both the executive and legislative branches. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to add younger judges, whom he felt were more in touch with the daily lives of the American people after the Supreme Court had struck down some of the New Deal bills that Congress had passed. Members of Congress also have had concerns that unelected judges were getting involved in the lawmaking process.

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The landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (1803) is important because it established the principle of judicial review within the American political system. Essentially, the Supreme Court, in its ruling, arrogated to itself the right to strike down legislation deemed to be unconstitutional.

Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling there was no mechanism available by which laws could be voided on constitutional grounds. As such, the Supreme Court previously had a relatively minor role within the American political system. That changed with Marbury v. Madison. From then on, the Supreme Court, in addition to its strictly judicial function, would take on a more overtly political role. Then as now, this was an immensely controversial development. It seemed that unelected judges were exceeding the bounds of their authority in making decisions that had traditionally been the exclusive preserve of the states or the U.S. Congress.

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