The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.)
I pick Marbury vs Madison, the 1803 case that established the concept of judicial review in the US. That is, it was the first time the Supreme Court declared a US law unconsitutional. The decision contains the court's reasoning for why they have that power, despite the lack of explicit language in the Constitution granting them such power.
The wikipedia article is informative about the tangled background of the case, which is all about midnight appointments and political manuevering. You can read Chief Justice Marshall's opinion online. It's surprisingly clear language, and his reasoning feels inescapable:
The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution. Could it be the intention of those who gave this power, to say that, in using it, the constitution should not be looked into? That a case arising under the constitution should be decided without examining the instrument under which it arises? This is too extravagant to be maintained.I love this decision because it's sort of a meta-decision: this one gives the SC the power to make so many of their other famous decisions. For instance, the next time the court struck down a federal statute was the Dred Scott case. That's another one Palin might have heard of if she'd been to the same ninth-grade civics class I was in.