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MEMBERSHIP OF THE COURT
Nine members ­ one chief and 8 associates.
Appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Current chief justice ­ John Roberts.
Predecessors;
Rehnquist ­ 1986-2005
Burger ­ 1969-86
Warren ­ 1953-69
Hold the office for life `during good behaviour'.…read more

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PHILOSOPHY: STRICT CONSTRUCTIONIST
Strict constructionist:
Interpretation of the constitution in a strict, literal or conservative fashion. Stresses
the retention of as much power as possible by the govts of the individual states.
Look at the original intent of the founding fathers. Focus on the text. Apply rules from the
words chosen by the FF.
Usually appointed by Republicans.
Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito.
Scalia "The constitution I interpret is not living but dead" Responsibility not to
make sense of the law but "follow the text of the law".
The constitution is not meant to facilitate change but impede it ­ you want a new right (say
to abortion?) well create a law that grants that right, like most rights are established.…read more

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PHILOSOPHY: LOOSE CONSTRUCTIONIST
Loose constructionist:
Loose or liberal interpretation of the constitution, tends to stress the broad grants of
power to the federal govt.
Read elements into the constitution that they believe the FF would approve.
Ginsburg and Breyer, and Stevens and Souter (although appointed by a
Republican).
Look at the context of the constitution.
Bush didn't realise when he appointed Souter that he would be appointing one
of the most liberal members of the court.…read more

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CLASSIFICATION OF SUPREME COURT
JUSITCES
Classification Ideology Characteristics Party Examples
Strict Conservative Strict/literal Republican Roberts
Constructionist interpretation of Scalia
the constitution Thomas
in favour of Alito
states rights
Loose Liberal Reads things Democrat Ginsburg
Constructionist into the Breyer
constitution, Sotomayor
favour federal Kagan
govt power.…read more

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PHILOSOPHY: JUDICIAL ACTIVISM
Activist court = one that leads the way in the reform of American society.
Warren court ­ Brown Vs Board of Ed (1954).
Pivotal in Civil Rights movt.
Burger court ­ Row Vs Wade (1973)
Right to have an abortion = constitutionally protected right.
Judicial activism views the court as an equal partner to the legislature and executive
­ therefore no need to be deferential.
Activist judges not inclined to be deferential to the other branches of govt.
I'm in charge and will seek to be a player equal to the other branches in shaping policy.…read more

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Comments

Old Sir

Students might find this a very useful introduction or re-introduction to the US Supreme Court, its working and the issues that arise. It is vital to have knowledge of this for both the A2 paper one Govt & Politics of the US (OCR and others) and for the synoptic paper two. It is particularly important that students augment their knowledge and understanding with the arguments of some commentators that the Supreme Court damages the democratic process and the contrary arguments of others that it protects it.

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