Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson had different ideas about who should be the final arbiter of the Constitutionality of the laws passed by Congress.

It was the opinion of Thomas Jefferson, that the people through their representatives in their state legislatures should determine whether or not a law violated the Constitution. Jefferson reasoned that since the states and the people enjoyed a position of superiority over the central government they should have the final word.

Chief Justice John Marshall believed that the Justices on the Supreme Court were better qualified than the people to make such important decisions. Marshall favored a much stronger central government than did Jefferson and did not trust the judgement of the people to know what was in their own best interest.

In Marbury Versus Madison in 1803, the principle of Judicial Review was established as a Supreme Court precident. Even though the authority to interpret the Constitution is not authoriized to the Supreme Court in the Constitution it has become accepted as though it was an authorized power.

If the Justices on the Supreme Court have the authority to interpret the Constitution, they also have the capacity to amend the Constitution through interpretations. In Article V of the Constitution the methods for amending the Constitution are enumerated. Article V does not permit the Supreme Court the authority to amend the Constitution by interpreting it.

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.