Social Studies 4: Expanding the Power of the National Government
Today's lesson is all about government superpowers. You know, like the power to be super...executive. Or super judgey. Okay, so it's not exactly a Marvel movie, but at least this stuff really happened.
|4th Grade||Social Studies|
|Elementary and Middle School||4th Grade|
originally set things up.
Like every good superhero tale, this one has quite the origin story. [Superheroes appear]
Y’see, it all started back in 1803 with a pretty famous court case, Marbury v. Madison.
But before we dive into that, let’s skip back just a little further to 1800. [Dinosuar appears in 1800's]
There we go.
It’s 1800, and John Adams is the president.
But his presidency is coming to an end and Thomas Jefferson is eager to replace him. [Adams sitting in President's office and Jefferson appears at the window]
Johnny boy knows that as soon as Tommy's in office, it'll also mean that a new political party
will have control over the national government.
So before he packs up and leaves, John decides to make a series of “midnight appointments” [John working at midnight in the office]
––a desperate, last minute attempt to fill as many government offices as possible
with people who shared Adams’ political beliefs.
Adams, you sly dog, you.
Now remember: this was before email, texting, or snapchat.
These appointments had to be delivered the old-fashioned way: In person.
So Adams wakes up his Secretary of State, John Marshall, who is pretty grumpy about [Adams knocks on John Marshalls door and John appears]
having his beauty sleep interrupted, and tells him to go and deliver the appointments.
Then Adams toodles off to get his beauty rest.
Marshall does his best, but he's not able to deliver all the appointments before Adams’ [Marshall delivering appointments]
Give the guy a break, he's half asleep!
Marshall leaves the final appointments in the hands of the new Secretary of State, James
Except new President Thomas Jefferson isn’t having it.
After all, Jefferson's President now, so he gets to make the rules, right?
Well, not everybody agrees with Jefferson’s decision.
Someone who really doesn't agree?
This guy, William Marbury…. [Marbury stood by a mail box]
…who just happens to be one of the people Marshall failed to deliver an appointment to.
So Marbury sues Madison, and tries to get the Supreme Court of the United States to
force Madison to hand over the paper with the appointment.
Yeah, that’s right: just the paper showing he’d been offered it, not the actual position.
Maybe he wanted to show off at parties?
But here's where the plot thickens…
Chief Justice John Marshall – uh-huh, the same John Marshall who failed to deliver the [John Marshall in court bangs gavel]
appointment in the first place is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
And guess what?
He doesn’t rule in Marbury’s favor –
-- and he also rules that the law which Marbury used to sue Madison with was unconstitutional, [Marbury crying in court]
Guess he was still grumpy over the whole "no sleep" thing.
So with this ruling, Chief Justice Marshall established what we now call “judicial review,”
which is the power of the Supreme Court to declare laws unconstitutional.
Some historians and political scientists claim this move expanded the Supreme Court’s power
so immensely that it upset the balance between the three branches of government. [Branches of government on a scale]
Others recognize Marshall’s act of judicial review as a necessary and proper change that
brought about justice in cases like Brown v. Board of Education, where the Supreme Court
ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional by using…you guessed it….judicial review!
So there ya have it.
Marbury v. Madison forever changed the way the Supreme Court – and the national government [Marbury and Madison bickering either side of judicial review man]
as a whole – works.
Y’know, when they decide to work at all…