Marbury v. Madison: Document E, Federalist No. 81, 1788
This summer the Bill of Rights Institute is blogging a document-based question on the Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803). Each weekly post will feature an excerpted document related to the case, along with some questions to guide your thinking on it. Each document should be used to address the question: “Argue whether or not the Supreme Court should have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws.”
Federalist No. 81, 1788
[T]here is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which DIRECTLY empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State. I admit, however, that the Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give the place to the Constitution.
>What power does Hamilton deny the Constution directly gives the national courts?
>What does Hamilton say should be the “standard of construction” for laws?
Check back each week to see the next document and how it might change your thinking on this important question that affects all public school teachers and students in the U.S.! If you are enjoying this DBQ – be sure to check out our curriculum Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases the Changed History.