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Columbia Law School

2003

Jurisprudence

Legal History

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Law And Judicial Duty, Philip A. Hamburger Jan 2003

Law And Judicial Duty, Philip A. Hamburger

Faculty Scholarship

Two hundred years ago, in Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice Marshall delivered an opinion that has come to dominate modern discussions of constitutional law. Faced with a conflict between an act of Congress and the U.S. Constitution, he explained what today is known as "judicial review." Marshall described judicial review in terms of a particular type of "superior law" and a particular type of "judicial duty." Rather than speak generally about the hierarchy within law, he focused on "written constitutions."

He declared that the U.S. Constitution is "a superior, paramount law" and that if "the constitution is superior ...