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Supreme Court by ajizai


									Supreme Court
       Supreme Court
• Supreme Court is part of the political
     • Many would assume that the court is a non-political
         – Made up of 9 individuals, unelected, non-partisan, serve
           life terms
               » But the justices themselves hold political values –
                 influence decisions
         – Determine values of the U.S. when they render
               » How much power the president has; define the right
                 to privacy, power of police, etc..
     • History of the Court
         – Article III, section 2 defines the powers of the court
             » “Judicial power shall extend to all Cases in law and
                equity - laws of the U.S. – Treaties – Ambassadors
                – Public Minister & Consuls – Cases of Admiralty &
                Maritime – Controversies over states, States and
                citizen, and Foreign states and or subjects”
         – Early courts met infrequently – accomplished very little
             » Where do you start? Its like being a mosquito in a
                nudist colony
             » Very unglamorous job
                       Supreme Court
• Framers Intentions
     • Determine what the constitution is and is not
         – Failed to spell out the how the interpretation
           function was to operate
         – Though its stated the judicial power of the court to
           “all cases under the constitution”
              » No mention that the Court had the power to
                 declare specific law or actions unconstitutional
         – This power came later first land mark case (1803)
           Marbury v. Madison – case is political
     • Marbury v. Madison - 1803 President John
       Adams appointed several judges to various
         – Adam made appointments the night before he was
           to leave as President of the U.S. “mid-night”
         – Thomas Jefferson became president next day –
           noticed the legislation – ordered the appointments
           not to be delivered
              » William Marbury filled a writ of mandamus –
                requires that a public official perform a
                specific duty
              » Writ of mandamus (Act of 1789) had give the
                Court original jurisdiction in such matter
   Supreme Court
• John Marshall (chief justice) made the
  case about constitutionality
     • Whether the Judiciary act of 1789 was a
       constitutional act enacted by congress
         – Marshall ruled that the Supreme Court was not the
           court with the Jurisdiction to rule
             » Over ruled the Congress – who had given the
               power in the first place

• Methods of Interpretation
     • Justices are classified into two schools of
       Constitutional interpretations
         – Strict construction and non-construction
     • Strict constructionist – constitution read literally &
       rigid guidelines
         – Framers constitutional intentions must be discerned
     • Non-Constructionist – constitution is a political
       document & flexible – must be adapted & updated
       to politics in modern times
                       Supreme Court
• Other Elements
     • Judicial restraint & Judicial activism
         – Judicial restraint – justices should only rule on
           court cases in gross miss-rulings of lower
             » Exercise jurisprudence – uphold previous
               court decisions
         – Judicial activism – Court take active role in
           creating new precedents (policies)
     • Ultimately Court rulings are made according to
       all 4
         – Constructionist, non-constructionist, judicial
           restraint, judicial activism
              » Rulings are made in general terms 1)
                provides flexibility and interpretation
         – Constitution does not say ‘read me broadly’ or
           ‘read me narrowly’
              » The above provides a outline for court
                case decisions
     • Cases that reach the Court are rarely clear cut
         – This forces justices to draw on previous cases
           for decisions –
             » Utilize their own political values and
                understanding of public good
         Supreme Court
• Principles Guiding Court Decisions
      • Arguable that the Supreme Court has the Ultimate power
          – Interprets the constitution & laws of the land
               » Begs the question – ‘how can we justify giving non-elected
                 individuals so much power?’
          – Multiple scholars have attempted answer this question
               » Argument 1: Supreme Court relies on elected branches of
                 gov to enforce the law
               » The Supreme Court is weak due to its dependency on other
               » Argument 2: Supreme Court subject to public opinion
               » Helps to influence decisions that are unpopular
      • Criteria for cases to reach the Supreme Court
          – Examine how the authoritarian institution exists in a democratic
              » 7 aspects of the Supreme Court
          – Stare Decis –Court bases it decision on previous court decisions
              » Court has to justify their decisions – an attempt to keep law
                  consistent and remove political nature
          – Political Question – Court may not hear a case due to its political
              » Refuse’s to hear cases that should be dealt with by other
          – Ripeness – Court hears cases that are ‘ripe’ or received a lot of
            petitions to be heard
              » Affirmative action, abortion, freedom of religion, etc..
                      Supreme Court
        – Moot-ness -Any case decided by no legal or non-
          judicial action or unnecessary to hear the case
            » Reverse discrimination cases
        – No Advisory Opinions – only hears cases where
          there is real conflict between two parties
            » Court doesn’t give advice on constitutional
        – Standing - Legal rights to challenge judicial
            » Court will not rule unless there is standing
            » Party must demonstrate that they have a
               case to influence the court
        – Rule of Favor – Justices hear petitions every
          Monday which they confirm or deny
            » Justices (the Court) will hear petitions for
               court cases and chose those that meet the
               following above criteria
            » Four of the nine justices must agree on the
               petition to hear the case
• Technicalities of Court Decision’s
     • 7 components of a court decision
        – Facts, question, rule, reasoning (majority),
          dissent, concurring decision, dicta
        Supreme Court
•   Components of a Court Decision
     – Facts
         • A writ of certiorari – all records of the case are sent to the Court
     – Question
         • Every case heard must raise a Constitutional question
               – ‘Did the law that passed by the state legislature conflict with the 1 st Amendment
                 right of the freedom of speech?’
     – Rule (s)
         • Rule of law – how the majority of the court answer the question
               – Sometimes the courts will have multiple rulings and strike down parts of a law
                 or actions
               – There is typically some test offered in the rule of law (e.g. Neutrality Test,
                 Balancing Test, Lemon Test)
     – Reasoning (majority)
         • Provides the answer as to why the court ruled the way they did
         • Citing of previous decisions of the courts and the interpretations of their
     – Dissent
         • Those who opposed the ruling of the majority are give opportunity to
           explain their reasoning
         • Importance of dissent that often dissent will many years later be turned
           into law
               – (e.g. Justice Harlan’s dissent in the 1898 Plessy vs. Ferguson case)
     – Concurring Decision
         • Where a justice agrees with the rule of the law of the majority – but
           disagree with the reasoning of the majority
     – Dicta
         • The political or historical ideology or argument made by a court justice
         • Dicta has no force as a rule of law

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