Tag: Marbury v. Madison

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What’s the point of the American system of government without a written Constitution operating as the one supreme law? And what’s the point of a written Constitution whose meaning changes when the writing stays the same? Kudos to those on the Left who acknowledge that they believe in an unwritten Constitution to supplement the written […]

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The True Meaning of Marbury v. Madison


hqdefaultMichael Stokes Paulsen is one of America’s most prominent scholars of constitutional interpretation, and the co-author (with his son) of the recently-released, The Constitution: An Introduction. I just discovered his fascinating 2004 article, “The Irrepressible Myth of Marbury.” From the introduction:

Nearly all of American constitutional law today rests on a myth. The myth, presented as standard history both in junior high civics texts and in advanced law school courses on constitutional law, runs something like this: A long, long time ago — 1803, if the storyteller is trying to be precise — in the famous case of Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court of the United States created the doctrine of “judicial review.” Judicial review is the power of the Supreme Court to decide the meaning of the Constitution and to strike down laws that the Court finds unconstitutional.

But, he argues, “nearly every feature of the myth is wrong.”