Origins of the Federal Court System

Judiciary Act of 1789 and the Lower Federal Courts

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.


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