Marbury v Madison - an analysis

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Marbury v Madison, the early nineteenth century American case, profoundly affects to this day Australian jurisprudence, as a result of acceptance by the High Court of its "principles" as "axiomatic" and serves as a basis for the justification of judicial supremacy over the legislature and the executive. The attachment to Marbury rests, however, on little sustained analysis of the case itself. This article analyzes the case in its historical, political and legal milieu. The analysis reveals that there is little if any principle involved, and that the opinion has little legal merit. It argues that in elevating the judicial power in interpreting the US Constitution, for essentially political and person reasons. Marshall CJ perpetrated a fraud upon the Constitution by deliberately marginalizing the role of the people in amending the Constitution and effectively giving that right to the Court as sole interpreter The High Court's endorsement of this flowed, foreign and essentially irrelevant case for the vastly different Australian constitutional context, has resulted, it is argued, in the stultification of any vibrant democratic constitutionalism in Australia by usurping the people's right to know, understand and change their Constitution, and arrogating those functions solely to the judicial interpretations of the Court.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-141
Number of pages84
JournalHigh Court quarterly review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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