Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Marbury v. Madison was a landmark decision establishing the Supreme Court's power of judicial review - that the Supreme Court ultimately decides whether a law is constitutional. The case, decided in 1803, has an intriguing political background. Thomas Jefferson had become President in 1801, but before he took office, President John Adams, from the opposition Federalist party, created new courts and packed them with justices sympathetic to his political party. Jefferson refused to grant them a commission. One of the justices appointed by Adams, a man named William Marbury, sued Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison (a proxy for Jefferson), to force Madison to grant him a commission.