In the 1825 case of Eakin v. Raub, Pennsylvania Justice John Bannister Gibson declared that the judicial branch of the government had no right to influence or control the actions of any other branch of the government. Thus, Justice Gibson declared the act of judicial review unconstitutional and in disagreement with the proper role of the judiciary as inherently defined by the constitution. The proper roles and powers of the judiciary branch of the government, as conveyed to it by the constitution, are subjects of controversy because they upset the balance in power with the other branches of the government. Upon expressing his verdict on judicial review, Justice Gibson intended to challenge the view of the judiciary as established by Justice John Marshall in 1801, in the case of Marbury v. Madison. Marshall affirmed that judicial review is the instrument by which the Supreme Court ensures the constitutionality of the acts issued by the legislature and defends the American population against abuses. Hence, the judicial branch is superior to any statute issued by the legislature and it operates by confirming the constitutionality of laws. While the latter has become the popular view of the judiciary, it contradicts with the true duty and power of the judiciary and establishes it as the supreme branch of the government. Furthermore, in his reasoning, Marshall fails to properly consider the legislature’s power and role. Not withstanding its popularity, it cannot be denied that Marshall’s deliverance on judicial review grants the judiciary superior political power over all other branches of the government and greatly exaggerates the role of the judiciary in relation to the legislature by favoring of judicial review. Conversely, Gibson discusses the unconstitutionality of judicial review by regarding the judiciary as a vassal of the legislature. The constitution, not the judicial branch, is the supreme and true law of the land that must prevail; the people grant sovereign power to the legislature by electing them.
Although the judiciary branch is entitled to power and responsibility by the constitution and common law, it does not posses the degree of power over other branches that judicial review grants it. According to Gibson, political power is best defines as any degree of control or influence that may be exerted by a particular branch of the government over another (Kutler 32). However, the duties assigned to the judiciary require no need for political power. Judges are to apply previously established laws to particular cases. They are to judge whether particular actions by individual citizens defy the order in society as established by the laws issued by the legislature. Thus, judges are entitled with the interpretation of laws in society, a civil duty that involves nothing of a political nature. The judiciary’s concern is with the citizens and the distribution of justice in their behavior. Gibson affirms that such is the power of the judiciary as defined by common law. By this logic, judicial review is a political power wrongly invested to the Supreme Court because it acts against its civil duties and politically commands the actions of a separate branch of the government. Judicial review involves the act of passing judgment and, if necessary, annulling acts of the legislature. Upon defining the duty of the judiciary as civil, Gibson declares that the judiciary cannot possess political power for it is not required by its responsibilities.
In an efficient government, each branch must specialize in those duties in which it possesses a unique ability, but judicial review would involve the judiciary in duties of the legislature. As each branch claims a role in the government, none is supreme for each relies on the superiority of the other two to properly function. By the constitution, the legislature is attributed power of legislation, thus creating laws according to constitutional standards. The duty of the...
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