In 1803, Marbury v. Madison established judicial review, according to the Oyez Project. Judicial review gave the Supreme Court power to overrule acts of legislation or executive orders that were contradictory to the Constitution. The Constitution was supreme over acts of the executive and legislative branches.
The Constitution gave specific powers to the executive and legislative branches but not to the Supreme Court, explains Our Documents. This decision by Chief Justice John Marshall outlined the role of the Supreme Court. From that ruling on, the Supreme Court had the power to deem acts and orders from federal and state governments unconstitutional and void.
The Court found that it had jurisdiction in cases involving contradictory laws, according to Cornell University's Legal Information Institute. It also found that the president issued a commission when the president gave the order to the specific department secretary, not when the secretary delivered the commission.
The Marbury v. Madison case involved an undelivered commission for justice of the peace, according to the State Bar of Texas. The outgoing John Adams signed commissions for several offices before he left the presidency to Thomas Jefferson. Adams' Secretary of State John Marshall did not deliver four commissions by the deadline. President Jefferson instructed the new Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver the commissions. William Marbury, one of the recipients, took the case directly to the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to instate him in his commission.