Live revision! Join us for our free exam revision livestreams Watch now

Study Notes

Judicial Review

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Judicial Review is the power of the Supreme Court to declare legislation and executive actions as unconstitutional. It is arguably the Supreme Court’s most famous and significant power.

Unlike the other powers that the judicial branch has, there is no constitutional basis for this power. It is a power that the Supreme Court gave itself.

The power was first introduced in the case Marbury v Madison 1803. The facts of the case are rather complicated but you should know that it is this case that power of judicial review was found. Since Marbury v Madison the Supreme Court has ruled that 176 Acts of Congress were unconstitutional, almost one every year!

The power, allows the court to rule on Acts of Congress, Executive Actions and State Laws, as to whether or not they are compatible with the Constitution. Significant examples include:

  • Spending limits as a result of Federal Election Campaign Act 1974, limits were ruled unconstitutional in the case Buckley v Valeo 1976.
  • Line Item Veto – The power of the President to veto parts of bills was ruled unconstitutional in Clinton v City of New York 1998.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.