The concept of judicial review of the constitutionality of state and federal statutes by the Supreme Court is generally rested upon the epic decision in Marbury v. Madison. The controversies which have surrounded the exercise of this power by the Supreme Court require a periodic reexamination of the concept of judicial review at its source, the Marbury opinion. This article proceeds by examining the historical context in which the case arose and analyzes the opinion in terms of various alternative approaches which might have been utilized by Chief Justice Marshall. The specific holding of the case is isolated in contrast to later interpretation given it, and a collection of relevant historical materials is presented to lend insight into the constitutional viewpoints of the period.

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