After reading about it, I still have confusion as to what happened to the other midnight judges that Adams appointed.

If the Supreme Court had the power to refuse to give Marbury his commission paper, then wouldn't it also have had the power to alter Adams decision and fire the other midnight judges, since the total number of judges were more than six? (If judiciary act is unconstitutional)

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    Your second paragraph appears to be speculating on what the court could do, which is offtopic. You might want to consider limiting the question to asking about the Midnight Judges only. – Semaphore Nov 9 '14 at 17:26
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    That is strictly not what the site is actually for. – user11355 Nov 9 '14 at 17:32
  • Toes the line between history and politics. I'm assuming the question is in past tense and hence a history question. – LateralFractal Nov 10 '14 at 4:36

The Supreme Court had the power to do what it wished, so long as the question is properly raised, it came to a decision it believed within its powers and the law and Constitution, and it could find somebody to enforce its decisions.

In the case of most of the other midnight judges the process had been

  1. Outgoing president Adams had appointed them
  2. The outgoing Senate had approved them
  3. The acting Secretary of State John Marshall had delivered their commissions

Point 3 had failed to happen for William Marbury due to lack of time, and he therefore brought his case against new Secretary of State James Madison to get his commission. Although the Supreme Court then decided (with John Marshall as Chief Justice) that Marbury should have received his commission, they also decided that the Supreme Court could not order Madison to act.

There were no grounds to challenge other appointments where the commissions had been properly delivered.

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    Didn't John Marshall rule that Marbury's request for a writ of mandamus is constitutional? Why can the Supreme Court call those other appointments unconstitutional since they were the judges added to the original six because of the judiciary act 1801. – user11355 Nov 9 '14 at 20:09
  • You can read the ruling at caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/… though the key point is that he/they ruled that Section 13 of the Judiciary Act passed by Congress in 1789, which authorized the Supreme Court to issue such a writ of mandamus, was unconstitutional as it extended the powers of the Court beyond those specified in the Constitution. – Henry Nov 9 '14 at 20:43
  • @Doeser Its the opposite, the court found that Marbury had no constitutional right to bring the claim to court. – Semaphore Nov 9 '14 at 20:54

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