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Examination by a country's courts of the actions of the legislative, executive, and administrative branches of government to ensure that those actions conform to the provisions of the constitution. Actions that do not conform are unconstitutional and therefore null and void. The practice is usually considered to have begun with the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in Marbury v. Madison (1803). Several constitutions drafted in Europe and Asia after World War II incorporated judicial review. Especially subject to scrutiny in the U.S. have been actions bearing on civil rights (or civil liberty), due process of law, equal protection under the law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and rights of privacy. See alsochecks and balances.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on judicial review, visit Britannica.com.