I have always had the impression that Marbury v. Madison gave the United States Supreme court its first jolt of power. However, I recently learned more about the political circumstances surrounding the case and am now confused.
Here is how Wikipedia sets the stage:
Marbury v. Madison also created a difficult political dilemma for Marshall and the rest of the Supreme Court. If the Court ruled in favor of Marbury and issued a writ of mandamus ordering Madison to deliver the commission, Jefferson and Madison would probably have simply ignored the order, which would have made the Court look impotent and emphasized the "shakiness" of the judiciary. On the other hand, a plain and simple ruling against Marbury would have given Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans a clear political victory.
Marshall avoided both problems and solved the dilemma.
But Jefferson disagreed with Chief Justice Marshall's decision anyway. In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson writes:
John Marshall’s twistifications in the case of Marbury ... shew how dexterously he can reconcile law to his personal biasses.
This is where I'm confused. The timeline seems to run like this:
The court is so weak that Jefferson would ignore any ruling against him.
The court, essentially, rules against Jefferson indirectly by giving itself the power of judicial review.
The court has the undisputed power of judicial review.
What happened at step 3? Why was the court's decision respected? If Jefferson was in the habit of ignoring rulings, and congress was on his side, why didn't they just ignore it? Eventually someone had to force everyone to go along with it. Who did the forcing? How did they do it?