The Supreme Court of the USA

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  • Created by: Liv Scott
  • Created on: 30-04-15 08:11
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Supreme Court (S.C.O.T.U.S)
Cannot commission cases
Receives 7000 cases per year, rules on about 100
Has no power to enforce rulings, relies on other branches to enforce
rulings
Powers & limitations defined in article 3
Has the power of judicial review
o Can make rulings on the constitution
US have codified constitution
The Supreme Court can make constitutional rulings because the US
constitution is both specific (e.g. enumerated powers of president-Clinton
line item veto 1996) and vague (e.g. "Cruel & unusual punishments"
-8th
amendment & Roe Vs Wade 1973- abortion)
It can interpret the constitution
The first ruling it made on a constitutional matter was M abury V Madison
(1803)
Currently has 9 (unelected) justices odd number so always a majority
ruling
BUT
Number not fixed in the constitution e.g. Roosevelt threatened "court
packing" in 1939 over new deal
Tend to be two approaches to the constitution:
Strict constructionists
o Follow the literal letter of the constitution
o Original intent of founding fathers
o More conservative
o Until- 1950s
Loose consructions
o Interpret the constitution
o What is the `spirit' of the constitution
o If the founding fathers alive today...
o Create social reform from the bench
o More liberal
o Roe V Wade
o Brown V Board of Topeka
This unit explores 4 courts:
o Warren court- 1954-69
o Liberal/activist
1954- Brown V Board of Topeka
1962- Engle V Vitale (school prayer)
1966- Miranda V Arizona (rights of arrested)
o Burger Court- 1969
o Liberal
1971 ­ Swann V Charlotte Mecklenberg (Race quotas)
1973- Roe V Wade
But

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NY V Quarles (Public safety)
o Rhenquist- 1986-2005
o More conservative/restraining
1989 Webstar V Reproductive Health services
1989 Duckworth V Egan (rights of arrest)
2000 Bush V Gore
But
2003 Hamdi V Rumsfeld (Due process)
o Roberts- 2005-
2006 Hamdan V Rumsfeld
2008 Baze V Rees- death penalty
SCOTUS & protection of rights
Originally saw its role as supporting the federal govn't
Failed to protect rights
Plessy V Freguson- 1896- "Separate but equal" clause of 14th amendment
o Segregation on railway carriages ­ overturned
by…read more

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Republicans normally nominate more
o Regan ­ 4
o Carter ­ 0
o Clinton ­ 2
o G.W. Bush ­ 2
o Obama - 2
Original purpose-
1. Adjudicate between states
2. Protect the right of citizens
Constitutional rulings (Judicial review) came with
1. Marbury V Madison- 1803- First time an action of the federal government
struck down
2.…read more

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Influenced Pro-life V Abortion debate, national organisation for
women (NOW) V Christian coalition
Desegregation of schools
School prayers
Flag burring
Note: the Rhenquist court decision on Webstar V reproductive health
services did not wholly reverse Roe V Wade but it did erode it
G.W. Bush wanted judicial restraint- argues there was `judicial tyranny'
and an `imperial judiciary'
Roberts promised not to `legislate from the bench'
G.W. Bush ignored ABA ratings
Used recess appointments in the federal courts
Criticisms of restraining courts & "Original intent"
1.…read more

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Samuel Alitd 2006 G.W. Bush Conservative
Sonia Sotomayor 2009 Obama Liberal
Elena Kagan (aged 52 repalace Paul 2010 Obama Liberal
Stevens)
Roberts Court ­ Judicial restraint?
Roberts appointed by G.W. Bush
o Expected to be restraining
o Partisan vote in senate
o Promised not to legislate from the bench
Restraint-
2008 ­ Baze V Rees ­ death penalty by lethal injection constitutional
2008 ­ Heller V District of Columbia ­ D.C.…read more

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Justices have a lifetime tenure ­too old
1. Contraception is not entirely used to prevent pregnancies, e.g. the pill can
be used to treat very heavy periods (can cause anemia) also can be used
for sever acne
2.…read more

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