Can the power of the Supreme Court be justified in a democracy?
(25 mark) The Supreme Court is the only branch of government which is unelected and therefore unaccountable, but appoints members for life. These characteristics have been criticised for being out of place in a democratic country such as the United States; especially due to the power the Supreme Court has, such as the power of judicial review. However while it could be argued to have too much power, in a liberal democracy such as America it is necessary for the Supreme Court to function this way. Overall the power of the Supreme Court can be justified in a democracy. The Supreme Court’s most important power is its power of judicial review; which is the principle by which courts can declare acts of either the executive branch or the legislative branch unconstitutional. When looking at the scope of influence that the court has had over many constitutional, social and policy-related issues, it is important to remember that this power is self-given and that the court has not derived this power from another branch or from the electorate. In the case of Marbury v Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall established the power of the court to declare acts of Congress, actions of the president or any member of the federal executive, as well as legislation and actions of the state governments, unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has exercised this power, for example, to revoke state laws that denied civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution, which happened in Brown vs the Board of Education. However, this power also gives them the ability to rule bills which elected bodies, such as the Congress and the President, have pushed for to be unconstitutional. Keeping in mind that the Constitution does not include the power of judicial review for the Court, it can therefore be argued that the Founding Fathers did not specify this power for a reason, and in reality the Supreme Court has over stepped its mark. Another...
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