supreme court

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Supreme Court
The role of the judiciary
Responsibility of judges to adjudicate ­ to do this, they resolve disputes that can't
be settled without legal action
They reach conclusions according to a set of rules, such as referring to previous
Philosophy of the justices
Strict constructionists
A justice who interprets the constitution in a strict literal or conservative
Tends to stress the retention of as much powers as possible by the
governments of the individual states.
They look at the original intent of the Founding Fathers ­ referred to as
Favor state rights over the power of the fed. Gov. & tend to be appointed by
Republican presidents ­ Chief Justice Roberts and associate Justices Scalia,
Thomas & Alito fall in this category
Focus on the text of the constitution job of the court is to derive and apply
rules from the words chosen by those who framed the constitution
Loose constructionists
A justice of the Supreme Court who interprets the Constitution in a loose or
liberal fashion, 7 who tends to stress the broad grants of power to the
federal government
Currently Justices Ginsburg 7 Breyer fall into this category, as do Justices
Stevens and Souter ­ although both appointed by Rep. Presidents
Judicial activism
An activist court is one which sees itself as leading the way in the reform of
American society
Court of Warl Warren ­ Activist in the 50s & 60s in decisions such as Brown V.
Board of education Topeka (1954) and Miranda V. Arizona (1966) trying to
move society along in the areas of black civil rights and the rights of arrested
Warren Burger court ­ activist in its Roe V. Wade (1973) ­ rights of a woman
to have an abortion was a constitutionally protected one
Sees the court as an equal partner with the legislative and executive branches
of government
Activist judges are not inclined to be deferential to the other branches of

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Judicial restraint
The court when it is more inclined to accept what has gone before ­ leave
things as they are ­ more associated with justices who are strict
Importance on what is called stare decisis ­ to stand by what is decided
Once a matter has been decided in a case ­ forms a precedent that should
not be overturned except under pressing and changed circumstances
E.g. a woman's right to abortion in Roe V.…read more

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Another situation ­ Bush nominated another conservative Clarence Thomas ­
senate didn't focus on his lackluster qualifications but focused on his
conservative philosophy & sexual harassment allegations
Samuel Alito's nomination saw soft questions thrown at him from senators
from the presidents party
If senate is dominated by the presidents party, president has party control ­
and can get anyone he wants confirmed by the senate ­ not a recipe for
effective checks and balances
Senators from opposition party look for opportunity to attack and embarrass…read more

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The supreme court has involved itself in a host of political issues ­ acting as
grantor of fundamental civil rights and liberties ­ S.C has made landmark
decisions on issues such as rights of racial minorities, capital minorities, gun
control & freedom of speech
The political importance of the court is demonstrated in the case of George
W. Bush V. Albert Gore Jr (2000)- S.C.…read more

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The term more fully is due process of law and although no precise legal
definition of the term has been made, it is understood to refer to the
principle of limited government.
There are 2 types of due process referred to by the courts.…read more

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Freedom of speech:
Citizen United v. Election Commission 2010 ­ Declared corporations
to have the same rights as individuals (financial contributions to
campaigns) over turning key elements in the Bipartisan Campaign
Reform act.
Right to bear arms:
United state v. Lopez 1995 ­ Unconstitutional 1990 Gun-free school
zones act, Congress had exceeded its power ­ implications for scope
of federal power over state juristictions.
Racial rights:
Brown v. Board of Ed 1954 ­ Declared segregation in schools
unconstitutional ­ Led to widespread desegregation of schools.…read more

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Power to pardon.
Other checks:
No enforcement powers (Brown v Board ­ only implemented by
Eisenhower sending in troops to Little Rock in 1957).
Has to wait for a case to come before it ­ cannot review legislation on
a hypothetical basis.
Some parts of the constitution are unambiguous.
Can check itself by reviewing old decisions (However precedence limits this).…read more


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