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Jefferson, Marshall and the Courts Midnight judges After there defeat in the election of 1800, the Federalists tried to keep control of the Federal Courts. Judiciary Act of 1801 increased the number of judges and added some judicial offices and quickly fill the positions with Federalist. Adams quickly nominated and the Senate confirmed. Adams signed some of the commissions on his final night as president. They became known as the “midnight judges,” however, not all of the commissions were delivered. Jefferson was angered by the appointments and sent word to the appointees to consider their appointments null. The Republicans quickly repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801. Jefferson replaced most of the judges, but he couldn’t change the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Virginian John Marshall. William Marbury John Marshall Marbury v Madison Jefferson did not acknowledge Adams’ “midnight judges”. One of the appointees, William Marbury, applied to the Supreme Court for a writ commanding Secretary of State James Madison to deliver his commission. This is the landmark case that created the powers of the Supreme Court. The decision John Marshall was a Federalist. If he ruled in favor of Marbury, he risked Jefferson ignoring the decision and weakening the Court. If he ruled in Jefferson’s favor he would be ruling against his party. Instead he came up with a great idea, Marshall stated that Marbury had the right to the commission, he declared a section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that gave the Supreme Court the right to issue writs in cases like Marbury’s unconstitutional. The founding fathers intended for the Supreme Court to have this power, but the court had to claim it, the power of judicial review. Samuel Chase Jefferson’s attack on the Courts Jefferson and the Republicans feared the judges because they were appointed for life. The only way to remove them was by impeachment. The Republicans started impeachment proceedings against many judges, the first was Samuel Chase Aaron Burr The Samuel Chase Case Chase attacked the Republicans from the bench, calling the revolutionaries and Jacobins. Impeachment trials are held in the Senate, and the person who presided over the Senate was the Vice-President, Aaron Burr (who lost the election of 1800 to Jefferson). Judges hold office during good behavior can only be impeached for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Chase did none of these things and was acquitted. Samuel Chase’s Day in Court Despite Samuel Chase’s distinguished background as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist judge was disliked by Republicans. He was bitterly anti-Republican, arrogant, and often seemed to act unfairly in his conduct of the Court. Given these circumstances the Republican majority in the House easily passed eight articles of impeachment against Chase. The major charge against Chase involved specific comments the judge had made while addressing a grand jury in Baltimore. These comments openly attacked the Republican party and warned Americans against that party. Other charges involved Chase’s conduct in two trials of Republicans under the Alien and Sedition acts passed by the Federalists to weaken Republican opposition. The Alien Act gave the President the power to deport any alien whom he felt was dangerous to national security; the vaguely worded Sedition Act essentially made it legal to suppress any criticism of the government. Chase was sarcastic and arbitrary during these trials. Finally, he was accused of blocking Republicans from sitting on the jury in the case of James Callender, a Republican who was tried for making treasonable comments. In any impeachment of federal officials, the House of Representatives conducts the trial and the Senate acts as the judge. Vice President Aaron Burr, himself under indictment for murder for his fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton, presided over the trial. Voting began on March 1. Each Senator rose and voted guilty or not guilty on each article of the impeachment. A two-thirds vote of the thirty-four senators present was needed for a conviction. In the end, only nineteen senators voted in favor of conviction. Define- midnight judges, Judiciary Act of 1789, Judiciary Act of 1801, John Marshall, impeachment, judicial review Summarize the events relating to John Adams’ appointment of “midnight judges”. Refer to the section entitled “Marbury vs. Madison” to answer questions 2-5 Why did William Marbury apply for a writ from the Supreme Court? What was Marshall’s original decision? What did he change it to and why did he do so? What did the Federalist lose as a result? What power was the Supreme Court guaranteed? What advantage did the Federalist expect to obtain from the Judiciary Act of 1801? How did the outcome of the impeachment cases allow political parties to freely voice their opinions about one another? Article III, section I of the Constitution states ________. Article II, section IV lists the 4 reasons a judge could be impeached. What are these reasons? 9. List 3 accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson’s first term as president.
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