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The Court System

Judiciary Act of 1789

What part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 gives the Supreme Court the power to review state laws?

Section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 provides that the U.S. Supreme Court can review state laws to determine whether they comport with the Constitution. The section reads that where “the validity of a state law is questioned on the ground of being repugnant to the constitution, treaties or laws of the United States,” the U.S. Supreme Court has jurisdiction. This section originally caused great controversy, as many believed that the rights of the states were being invaded by the federal government and its courts. Section 25 reads:

And be it further enacted, That a final judgment or decree in any suit, in the highest court of law or equity of a State in which a decision in the suit could be had, where is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of, or an authority exercised under the United States, and the decision is against their validity; or where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under any State, on the ground of their being repugnant to the constitution, treaties or laws of the United States, and the decision is in favour of such their validity, or where is drawn in question the construction of any clause of the constitution, or of a treaty, or statute of, or commission held under the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege or exemption specially set up or claimed by either party, under such clause of the said Constitution, treaty, statute or commission, may be re-examined and reversed or affirmed in the Supreme Court of the United States upon a writ of error.



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