The roles and power of the Supreme Court
- Highest court of appeal
- 4/9 justices have to agree to take a case
- Interprets and applies the constitution, judicial review
- Judicial review established by 1803 Marbury V Madison and 1810 Fletcher v Peck
Checks on their power
- Can only review cases brought to them
- Cannot enforce
- Limited time to take cases
- Impeachment (Samuel chase 1805)
- Constitutional amendments
- Public opinion
However checks are not always effective- Roosevelt unable to add justices and only 1 impeached.
Strict constructionalism V loose constructionalism
Literal, narrow reading, applying original intent, object to implied rights.
Board interpretation, implied rights, modern circumstances.
Restraint V Activism
Judicial Activism: break new constitutional ground, strike down federal and state laws, over turn decisions of lower courts and past precedent and taking more cases.
Liberal activism: Brown V Board, Mapp V Ohio, Miranda V Arizona, Roe V Wade, Texas V Lawrence, university of California v Bakke.
Conservative Activism: US V Lopez, DC V Heller, Gonzalez V Carhart, Burwell V Hobby Lobby.
Judicial Restraint: Fewer cases, reluctance to break ground, respect past precedent. Examples: planned Parenthood v Casey, keeping affrimative action.
The nomination system
- Nominated by president
- American bar association will make a report on them
- Senate judiciary committee hearings
- Senate vote- need a simple majority
Nomination system advantages and disadvantages
Arguments for the system:
- Presidential choices balanced by the senate and have ABA’s report. Unacceptable candidates are rejected or withdrawn: Bork rejected 42-58, Carswell, Heynsworth.
- Nominees are almost always well qualified: Breyer and Ginsburg only had 9 and 3 votes against them, only Thomas was rated qualified
- Women and minorities should be represented: Sotomayor, Thomas, Day O’ Connor, Ginsburg.
- Independence from presidents: Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, Souter, Kennedy
Arguments against the system:
- Sometimes the less qualified/less representative get through: Thomas the only African American judge is the most right wing, not representing his community. As well as sexual scandal.
- Process is political: Reagan and Bush only nominated right wing. Bork rejected by democrat senate, Alito got through on 58-42 in a party line vote
- Presidents can shift the balance of the court.
When are nominations controversial
- All in recent years due to balance of the court
- Nominees with extreme judicial positions will always be controversial
- Lack of experience
Burger Court, 1973, Roe V Wade
Burger Court, 1980, Harris V McRae
Rehnquist Court, 1989, Webster V RHS
Rehnquist Court,1992, Casey V Planned Parenthood
Rehnquist Court, 2000, Carhart V Stenberg
Roberts Court, 2007, Gonzalez V Carhart
Cases that changed America
Warren Court, 1954, Brown V Board
Warren Court, 1961, Mapp V Ohio
Warren Court, 1966, Miranda V Arizona
Burger Court, 1973, Roe V Wade
Buger Court, 1977, University of California V Bakke
Rehnquist Court,1989, Texas V Johnson
Rehnquist Court, 1995, US V Lopez
Rehnquist Court,2005, Roper V Simmons
Roberts Court, 2008, DC V Heller
Roberts Court, 2015, Obergerfell V Hodges
unanimous or almost unanimous decisions
Roberts Court, 2011, Maples V Thomas
Roberts Court, 2009, Safford School District V Redding
Roberts Court, 2011, Synder V Phelps
Roberts Court, 2014, McCullen V Coakly
Roberts Court, 2014, Riley V California
Roberts Court, 2015, Holt V Hobbs
Roberts Court, 2015, EEOC V Abercrombie and Fitch
Roberts Court: 5-4
2007, Gonzalez V Carhart
2008, DC V Heller
2009, Herring V US
2009, Ricci V Destefano
2010, Citizens United V FEC
2014, McCutcheon V FEC
2015, Glossip V Gross
2013 Maryland V King
2014, Town of Greece V Galloway
2014, Burwell V Hobby Lobby