Marbury vs. Madison

James MadisonJohn MarshallWilliam Marbury

This 1803 decision marked the first time the United States Supreme Court declared a federal law unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion for the court. He held that it was the duty of the judicial branch to determine what the law is. His opinion established the power of judicial review—that is, the court's authority to declare laws unconstitutional.

Below are some educational web sites that will help you learn more about this historic decision.

Marbury vs. Madison | The Judicial Branch | The U.S. Constitution | Other | Lesson Plans

Marbury vs. Madison

Marbury vs. Madison - Background
Melvin I. Urofsky's Explanation & Background on Marbury vs. Madison

James Madison Resources
This extensive site is from the James Madison museum. It includes a biography, transcripts of famous speeches, and information on his famous wife, Dolley Madison.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Learn about this famous Supreme Court Chief Justice


The Judicial Branch

The Federal Judiciary Homepage
Click on educational outreach to learn about the Courts to Classes program including lesson plans, mailing lists, free booklets and video tapes.

Virtual Tour of the Supreme Court Building
Take a virtual tour of the Supreme Court Building.

The Oyez Project
Explore the extensive United States Supreme Court multimedia database which includes abstracts and audio recordings of leading constitutional cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of the United States
Official site of the U.S. Supreme Court, featuring the court's opinions and orders, calendar and schedules, rules, news releases, and a host of general information. Court's decisions are posted on the day they are released.

The Three Branches of Government
Explore this ingenious way to balance power in our government. Link to biographies, key historical documents, and other resources about democracy.


The United States Constitution

The Constitution of the United States
This site, developed by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, includes actual photos of the document, a transcript, biographies of the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution, and dozens of commonly asked questions and answers.

The National Constitution Center
Joining Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA., this new national center will help increase awareness and understanding of our living Constitution. Explore the interactive Kids Corner for a chance to be a judge and make decisions, then compare your answers with the real judge’s.

Bill of Rights Golf
That’s right, here’s a little game to motivate you and test your knowledge of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.



Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Governement for Kids
This engaging site is from the U.S. Government Printing Office and includes resources you can print or obtain via mail. There’s an excellent glossary and downloadable handouts for teachers and students.


Lesson Plans

Balancing Three Branches at Once: Our System of Checks and Balances
Grades 3-5, National Endowment for the Humanities

Bill of Rights
Grades 8-12, Utah Education Network

Essentials of the U.S. Constitution Unit Plan
Grades 5-12, Utah Education Network