Supreme Court Running Away with Power


The Federalist Papers tell us that the Supreme Court is to be the least powerful branch of the U.S. Government. Recently, The Count has announced that they will review controversial Affordable Health Care for America Act. By deciding this case they will determine fate of one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in recent history. Looking at the monumental affects this decision will have on our Country, it safe to say that the Federalists would turn in their graves if they knew the amount of the Court holds today.

The Federalist tried to ease the concerns of the anti-Federalist by writing, “The judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution.” Because the Court holds neither the “sword or the purse” and can “take no active resolution what so ever,” the Court can pass judgment and judgment alone, but that the Court must rely on the Executive Branch for enforcement of their decisions.

The Court has no enforcement power in the legal sense to actually enforce any of their rulings but in todays world the Executive Branch is the enforcer of the Courts decisions. When the Court produces their verdict on the Bill every single American will feel the affects of the their action. The current strength of the Court paints the perfect picture of what the anti-Federalist feared, and proves the Federalists wrong in their predictions.

The Federalists state that, “it can never attack with success either of the other two” branches. With The Court set to decide such a contentious piece of legislation, it is yet another example of the Judicial Branch being as powerful, if not even more powerful than the other two. Some would argue that this high level of power is necessary in order to keep the other two branches of government in check. As the influence of the Executive and Legislative Branches grow, it can be debated that it is necessary for the Court to evolve into a stronger institution.

Currently, Congress and the President are increasingly involved in the everyday lives of citizens. Does this increased involvement of the other two branches require that the Court should become equally powerful? If the Court lost influence and started to become irrelevant the other two branches could gain even more authority. It is clear that the Federalist did not intend to grant The Court as much power as they yield today. But is this level of power justified for the current world we live in?

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2 Responses to Supreme Court Running Away with Power

  1. a15haddad says:

    I am a supporter of PPACA and I believe that it is constitutional and the Supreme Court should not overturn it. However, even if you disagree with the Supreme Court’s intervention on this particular bill and find it partisan (which I do), I don’t think that the Supreme Court is overstepping its bounds. Ever since the case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803, the Supreme Court has claimed the power of judicial review, the ability to review any legislative or executive decision’s Constitutionality. PPACA falls under the scope of judicial review; if the Supreme Court finds it unconstitutional it is their duty to overturn it. While this may not be what the Federalists had in mind, it has been a staple of American government for over 200 years.

  2. Justin says:

    I want to start by saying I think the Affordable Care Act is constitutional; I don’t think there is any difference between the current practice of requiring drivers to own car insurance and requiring Americans to own health insurance. That said, I do think it was necessary for the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of this legislation, and I do not think they are overstepping their limitations of power as intended by the Federalists.

    In Federalist No. 51, the essay on checks and balances, Madison writes, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition”. If it is in fact true that the President and Congress are getting more powerful, so too must the Supreme Court, to counteract the increasing power of the other two branches. In the case of this healthcare legislation, the Court agreed to hear a case from the Atlanta District Court. In this case, the state of Florida challenged the constitutionality of the legislation, and was subsequently joined by 26 other states, who all also believed that the law is unconstitutional. A majority of the states of this union believed the President and Congress was over-ambitious in their ratification of this legislation, thus necessitating the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of it. Once a decision is reached, the executive branch still has to enforce the ruling, illustrating the judicial branch’s lack of tangible power. Yet, the sheer magnitude of this legislation’s opposition gave the Supreme Court no choice but ti exercise its power and rule on the Affordable Care Act.

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