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Supreme Court Jurisdiction Concerning Marbury v. Madison: Analytical Essay

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The purpose of the courts is to solve legal matters by using the law to interpret each case (Khatri, 2016). The Supreme Court otherwise referred to “Court of Final Appeal”, is the highest level of the Federal Court System and has a wide array of setting precedence and jurisdiction (Khatri, 2016). A common question about the Supreme Court is how they choose their cases. The Supreme Court has thousands and thousands of cases to choose from and only some of the select few are chosen to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. How the Supreme Court chooses a case is that they tend to choose cases that have “national importance”, and a lot of cases will set a precedent for future cases (Schneider, 2017).

Something that takes place within the Supreme Court is precedence, which is an outcome from a case that directs upcoming cases that have comparable aspects (Khatri, 2016). An example of a case that sets a precedent would be Plessy v. Ferguson where a 1/8ths black and 7/8ths white man’s case determined that segregation based on color was not legally right. Although everyone was technically considered “equal” to one another, the colors were separated. The term “separate but equal” meant that every person, regardless of race, is protected equally under the law, and its purpose was to avoid white privilege. In 1862, Homer Plessy rode the white train because he could pass as a white man. The Plessy v. Ferguson case not only brings awareness to those of mixed colors, but it also shows the injustice of the courts when a person of color is involved. In the end, the Supreme Court set a new precedent-based off of this case and “gave legal justification for racial segregation for different races were legal as long as those facilities were equal to one another” (Khatri, 2016). The precedence set within this case opened up a narrow sliver of justice to those that were wrongfully treated due to segregation and allowed for another case to solve this issue.

The case that solved the case of segregation was Brown v. Board of Education. This case was started due to the inequality of having black and white schools (Khatri, 2016). Brown v. Board of Education showed the courts that even though the colors were separated, they were not equal. Blacks and whites had different schools and, in theory, were getting the same education but that was not the case. This particular Supreme Court Case “overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and nullified the concept of “Separate but equal.” (Khatri, 2016).

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Another part of the Supreme Court is having jurisdiction, which means that a “court has the right to hear a case” (Khatri, 2016). Supreme Court jurisdiction is similar to when a Harris County police officer has jurisdiction over Harris County and not Montgomery County. The Supreme Court exhibits appellate jurisdiction and examines if the “law was correctly applied” (Khatri, 2016). What this means is that if a large group of people does not think that the case was correctly dealt with, then the Supreme Court can come in and determine whether or not the trial was fair.

The Supreme Court is also subject to the two judicial philosophies “judicial activism” and “judicial restraint” (Khatri, 2016). Judicial activism is whether or not the Constitution was meant to be interpreted in cases and judicial restraint is where the Supreme Court takes the Constitution word for word without any interpretation (Khatri, 2016). Judicial review is determining whether or not something is constitutional and how the law should be interpreted (Khatri, 2016). Marbury v. Madison was actually the case that established judicial review and allowed the courts to “check” Congress and/or the President. Marbury v. Madison was a case that also set a precedent in the sense that “the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is” (Khatri, 2016). At the end of his presidency, President John Adams was in the process of appointing Marbury when Thomas Jefferson takes his position (Khatri, 2016). Thomas Jefferson does not want Marbury to be appointed so James Madison does not deliver Marbury’s “letter of appointment” (Khatri, 2016). Marbury was very upset and brought the constitution and the law into play and while the Supreme Court looked at both Marbury and Madison’s side of the story, they determined that they do not have the “authority to make Madison deliver the letter” (Khatri, 2016). This case brought into question whether or not the Supreme Court can deem something unconstitutional or not.

The last of the four examples of Supreme Court cases is Us v. Nixon and this case questioned the constitutionality of separation of powers. The question being asked during this case was how much “confidentiality” should the President be entitled to (Khatri, 2016)? Does the President have the ability to keep vital information to himself? In the end, the court decided that not everything should be confidential to only the President because it would allow too much confidentiality to the President, harming the well-being of the country.

The Supreme Court and many of its cases are important to how the United States of America behaves when it comes to certain subjects. If it were not for cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, there is a very real probability that segregation would still be prevalent. Cases like Marbury v. Madison determined how to use judicial review, and although it is still debated it bring awareness to the two judicial philosophies.

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Supreme Court Jurisdiction Concerning Marbury v. Madison: Analytical Essay. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
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