Power Of Supreme Court Essay

913 words - 4 pages

The Power of the Supreme Court Cannot be Justified in a Democracy (45)

The US Supreme Court has a number of powers. These include the power to declare acts of Congress, the executive or state legislatures unconstitutional through the power of judicial review. The supreme court justices are also given the power to interpret the constitution when making decisions, again, through their power of judicial review. It is arguable that it is essential for the supreme court to have such powers in order to allow the American democracy to flourish. However, there is much evidence to suggest that the supreme court holds too much power for an unelected body, thus hindering democracy.

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The constitution gives the people the power to decide who governs them, if outcomes of elections are being determined by the supreme court, it is undemocratic. This was seen in in the Bush Vs Gore case during the 2000 presidential election in which the Supreme Court decided the outcome of the election by not allowing a Florida recount resulting in Bush winning the presidency. This was controversial the court should not be a political branch. However, the Conservative nature of the court at the time meant that they worked in favour of Bush and that determined their decision.

Many of America’s democratic principles are drawn from the constitution like the checks and balances system. The supreme court’s power of judicial review was not mentioned in the constitution. It evolved following the Marbury Vs Madison case and was not granted by the constitution. The Supreme Court therefore does not have the authority to carry out judicial review and become a quasi-legislative branch because the constitution granted this power to Congress.

However, there are a number of reasons why the power of the supreme court can be justified in a democracy. Firstly, the supreme court helps protects the rights and liberties of the people. If Congress were to pass a law which infringes the bill of rights, the supreme court can declare it constitutional. For example, the United States Vs Eichman decision involved the supreme court declaring a federal law banning flag desecration unconstitutional as it infringes the 1st amendment which entitles the people to freedom of expression. Without the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review, checks on the work of Congress would become limited resulting in in laws which could infringe people’s rights and liberties. This is far more undemocratic than allowing the supreme court to...

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