The purpose of this chapter is to describe the policy-making role of the federal judiciary, in particular that of the Supreme Court. To appreciate the significance of this role, students need basic knowledge about the history of the Supreme Court, the structure and procedures of the federal courts, the nature of controversy over the courts, and the restraints on judicial policy making. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:
1.Discuss the meaning and significance of judicial review and its relationship to Marbury v. Madison.
2.List and comment on the three eras of varying Supreme Court influences on national policy from the days of slavery to the present.
3.Describe the partisan influences on federal judicial appointments.
4.Describe how the nature of federalism affects the jurisdiction of federal and state courts.
5.Discuss the ways in which cases can get to the Supreme Court.
6.Describe the financial and non-financial obstacles of getting into federal court.
7.Explain how political scientists classify justices as liberal or conservative and why they do so.
8.Enumerate four measures of judicial power and describe how judicial power can be restrained by Congress and by public opinion.
9.Develop arguments for and against an activist Supreme Court.
10.Explain the relationship between public and the courts.
A.Courts in the United States play a major role in policy making 1.Due to judicial review: right to declare acts and laws unconstitutional 2.Since 1789, Supreme Court has ruled over 100 laws unconstitutional 3.In Great Britain, no judicial review in American sense, but parliamentary supremacy B.Controversy is over method of judicial review
1.Strict constructionist (conservative philosophy today) 2.Activist approach (liberal philosophy today)
II.The Development of the Federal Courts
1.Founders did not expect a major policy role for the federal courts 2.Traditional view: judges find and apply existing law 3.Evolution of courts shaped by political, economic, and ideological forces
B.National supremacy and slavery (1789–1865)
1.Marbury v. Madison—established doctrine of judicial review (see the “Marbury v. Madison” box) 2.McCulloch v. Maryland: federal law declared supreme over state law 3.Dred Scott v. Sandford: blacks were not, and could not become, free 4.Interstate commerce clause is placed under the authority of federal law C.Government and the economy (1865–1937)
1.Dominant issue of the period: whether the economy could be regulated by state and federal governments 2.Private property held to be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment 3.Courts unsure of how to draw line between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” regulation 4.The Court interpreted the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments narrowly as applied to blacks D.The protection of political liberty and economic regulation (1937–present) 1.Supreme Court gave regulatory powers to legislatures 2.Voided congressional acts that violate personal liberties 3.Court-packing plan shifts interpretation
III.The Structure of the Federal Courts
A.Only federal court mandated by Constitution is Supreme Court 1.Congress has created constitutional courts—district Courts (94), courts of appeals (12), plus other specialized courts (e.g., Court of International Trade) 2.Legislative courts—specialized purpose, fixed office terms for judges (e.g., Court of Military Appeals and other territorial courts) B.Recent court nominations
1.Bush administration nominees
2.Filibustering by Senate democrats
C.Supreme Court appointments are...