Constitutional Rules, Constitutional Standards, and Constitutional Settlement: Marbury V. Madison and the Case for Judicial Supremacy


Larry Alexander

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Even after 200 years, Marbury v. Madison continues to generate scholarly attention. There is a huge and rich literature on the merits and implications of the Marshall opinion apart from its assertion of judicial review. Nevertheless, the main body of the vast Marbury oeuvre is devoted to judicial review. Is judicial review provided for in the Constitution? If not, has its legitimacy been established other than by constitutional provenance? What is the scope of judicial review? In other words, to what governmental acts is it applicable? Finally, what is the force of judicial review? Does it have stare decisis effect as well as res judicata effect? And if it has stare decisis effect, is that effect as strong as or stronger than the Supreme Court's gloss on Marbury in Cooper v. Aaron implies?

In this paper I focus on the force question, its relation to the so-called countermajoritarian difficulty, and to what extent attacks on Cooper v. Aaron are meritorious.