Marbury in Mexico: Judicial Review's Precocious Southern Migration

77 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2007 Last revised: 24 Feb 2017

See all articles by M. C. Mirow

M. C. Mirow

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: 2007


Scholars agree that the United States Supreme Court did not discover the general judicial review aspects of Marbury v. Madison (1803) until nearly a century later in 1895. This article reveals that the Mexican Supreme Court, relying heavily on U.S. constitutional sources and quoting Marbury, discovered this aspect of the case more than a dozen years earlier than the United States Supreme Court.

In attempting to construct United States-style judicial review for the Mexican Supreme Court in the 1880s, Ignacio Vallarta, president of the court, read Marbury in a way that preceded this use of the case in the United States. Using this surprising fact as a central example, this article makes several important contributions to the field of comparative constitutional law. The work demonstrates that through constitutional migration, novel readings of constitutional sources can arise in foreign fora. In an era when the United States Supreme Court may be accused of parochialism in its constitutional analysis, the article addresses the current controversy surrounding the Court's recent use of foreign sources. In discussing Vallarta's constitutional thought, the work makes contributions to the terminology of constitutional migration, to the historiography of Mexican constitutionalism, and to questions of common law and civil law approaches to constitutional decision making. It concludes that Mexico's precocious use of Marbury profoundly affected Mexican legal development and may serve as an example of the usefulness of comparative constitutionalism.

Keywords: constitutional law, judicial review, Marbury, Mexico, legal history, Latin America, Ignacio Vallarta, comparative constitutionalism, comparative law, amparo

JEL Classification: K1, K10, N36

Suggested Citation

Mirow, M. C., Marbury in Mexico: Judicial Review's Precocious Southern Migration (2007). Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 41-117, 2007, Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-3, Available at SSRN:

M. C. Mirow (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

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