Can the Power of the Supreme Court Be Justified in a Democracy

1359 Words Nov 29th, 2013 6 Pages
Discuss the view that the power of the Supreme Court cannot be justified in a democracy. The Supreme Court: Functions of judiciaries; judicial independence.
Membership, appointment process and issues of judicial review; accountability and democratic control. Theories of judicial activism and restraint.

The supreme Court is the head of the judicial part of Government in the USA, it acts as an appellant court which can also on occasion deal with ambassadorial and diplomat cases. It is separate from the other 2 branches of government in order to remain independent and provides a powerful check on those branches. However it has been criticised by being called democratically lacking. The members have a significant amount of power
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This is vastly different to the majority of America with no representation for protestants or atheists.

However as the founding fathers designed a system of government with checks and balances, this has meant that there are also restraints on the Supreme Courts power. It is first and for most an ‘appellant’ court. This means that it deals for the most part with cases who decisions have been contested at a lower levels of the US justice system.This limits the courts most significant power as ‘arbiter of the constitution’ as it can only give rulings on cases brought before it. This is best shown with the 2004 Elk Grove Unified School District vs Newdow. . Michael Newdow felt that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are an endorsement of religion and therefore violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Supreme were going to have to create a ruling on this issue which many commentators believed would be with Newdow however he lost custody making him unable to bring the case to the supreme court as his daughters education was no longer seen as his concern.

When discussing the Supreme Courts powers, its ideological stance must be taken into consideration. The last 50 years has seen the court move from one which believed in judicial activism to one which now practices more judicial restraint. This is important as it will determine the power of the Court. A court practising judicial restraint will

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