Origins of the Federal Court System

Judicial Review and Judicial Independence

Does the Constitution explicitly give the power of judicial review to the judiciary?

No, the U.S. Constitution does not mention the concept of judicial review. Many framers assumed that the Court would have the power to declare laws unconstitutional but it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Several lower courts asserted the power of judicial review and, most famously, Chief Justice John Marshall clearly established the power for the judiciary when he wrote in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that “it is emphatically, the province of the judicial department, to say what the law is.”


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