Role of the Supreme Court in Policy Making

The US Supreme Court plays a significant role as far as policy making is concerned. The Constitution gives it the power to question, when needed, the actions of the Congress and even the President. It has the right to correct any unconstitutional laws that were passed by the congress, or tell any state governments that one of their laws violated the rules stipulated in the constitution (Schauer, 2006). The Supreme Court gives the final judgment regarding any cases that involve either Congress laws or the Constitution. It is, however, essential to note that, the Supreme Court does not have all the powerful, since its powers are limited by the Congress and the legislature.

The other important role that contributes to effective policy making is judicial review. This was contributed by the actions of Chief Justice John Marshall, in the Marbury v. Madison case in 1803, where he declared one of the laws passed by the congress as unconstitutional (Douglas, 2006). Ever since then, the Supreme Court has the active role of reviewing the nation’s laws so as to determine whether they were made according to the provided Constitution. Through this power of judicial review, the Court is able to outline the scope, powers and separation between the legislature and the executive branches in the federal government.  It contributes to effective policy making in the sense that, whenever disputes are raised with regard to unconstitutional laws, it is able to make ethical and fair judgments. An example is that of the case of Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka, where the Court made ruling that isolation laws were unconstitutional, and went ahead to stop any desegregation of public schools in all states (Douglas, 2006).

One of the strengths of the Supreme Court is that it has unquestionable respect. This has contributed to a larger extent to the preservation of its unique tradition of judicial review and its central importance in the political arena. The judicial review’s power provides the Court with the sole responsibility of checking and reviewing all the systems in the states and federal government. This allows the judges to have the final word concerning allocation of authority in the three branches of government (Schauer, 2006). The other strength is the fragmented scope of the American Constitutional structure and the legal system, which has contributed to its efficiencies and competencies when handling all cases.

Considering the Courts limitations, it has both internal and external limitations. With regard to internal limitations, the Court needs another actual case that can help in making the final decisions. It will be very tricky to come with a better judgment in an event that the Court will lack a similar case in dispute. The other one includes the avoidance of constitutional issues and the tendency to follow precedents so as to make judgments. External limitations include the powers of the Congress that limit the jurisdictions of the Court and approval of Court nominees. The other one is its political nature; this is revealed in the changing political forces that surrounded the issue of racial separation. In the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court favors the principle of “Separate but Equal”. But this is reversed in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case, where it argues that segregation laws are unconstitutional (Ville, 2004). This reflects the political climate and political limits in which the Court operates in.

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