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The Relationship between Political Power and the Judicial System

Apr 14, 2023 | 0 comments

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Apr 14, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

The judicial system carries a lot of power when it comes to determining the state and environment within which the state operates. However, as has been proven often, the high court holds the ultimate power in determining the political environment. The take up of decisions to the Supreme Court is often dependent on three factors. To begin with the case must carry virtual importance and therefore disputants and their advisors are aware of the possibility of the Supreme Court.  Secondly, the courts must be willing and able to take up the case.  Third disputants need to be aware of the benefits of pursuing cases into the higher courts. Such pursuance includes high risk, in terms of time and resources.

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When it comes to proposed legislations, the government is often more concerned with the high court decisions rather than attempts by Supreme Court judges to explain the decision to the masses. Often, Supreme Court judges take time to break down the law and legislation. (Green and Sanford 1990) cite that the terms equal justice under law which often appear on the main entrance of the supreme court require that all citizens served by the court understand and are given the opportunity to inter[ret the law and legislature for themselves. Whereas Supreme Court judges hold a lot of power and are often considered the topmost in the judicial hierarchy, they are also often considered to be distant and secluded from the locals. Often the masses are unable to relate or even associate themselves with Supreme Court judges. (Rehnquist 2001) found that whereas supreme court justices allow the masses a more clearer and better understanding of the legislature, they carry very little power in terms of persuading the masses to accept r reject a ;legislature. He continues to show that in fact masses are more likely to take the opposite direction than that expected by the Supreme Court.

Traditionally as (Hearly 1996) states, the Supreme Court represented the voice of the people.  The strength of the court relied mostly on the people who were committed towards ensuring that the constitution not only worked but was in fact fully sufficient.  The representative system of the Supreme Court has been duplicated in many countries including the colonized nations. However, until recently America was the only nation that had successfully organized the judiciary so that the power of the Supreme Court was constituted by all people. However, in the recent past majority of the critics have felt that the Supreme Court has become a political gimmick. Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the ruling party and are therefore often thought to be affiliates of the ruling party. They in fact play a role in the campaigns, are often used to shield and maintain political power. Even where appointments have been transparent, the citizens often feel that they are puppets of the political dynasties. It is therefore often thought that as they are presenting and explaining legislature, they are only doing so in favor of the government. In addition, because they are appointees of the government, it follows therefore that the government would not concern itself greatly with their opinions.  The high courts on the other hand are not only maintained by the citizens, they are ideally thought to be independent. Citizens often think of and imagine that the high courts are independent judiciary often making decisions without the support of the government.  Because such judges enjoy their reputation as independent decision makers they are often inclined to interpret legislature so that it does not border with political and government agenda.  This is therefore a major concern for the government whose agenda is often derailed from such decisions by the high court.

(Solomon 1990) highlights that the Supreme Court authority to make legislation constitutional or unconstitutional come from executive decisions. The government executive plays a major role in the Supreme Court decisions and hence the concern for such decisions in the government is lessened. Often Supreme Court judges have found their roles to be slightly confusing and conflicting. On the one hand, they are expected to be independent in their own decisions often chatting new paths for executive orders and legislature. On the other hand, the same judges are expected to uphold the constitution which in itself is a mandate of the government.  The high court on the other hand is mandated to uphold the rights of the citizens and protect their freedom thereof. When a high court declares legislation unconstitutional, the court brings forth reasons why such legislature may infringe on the rights and freedom of the citizens. Often and in many cases, the Supreme Court is forced to uphold the decisions of the high court rather than amend. This is why matters of the constitution and changes in legislature often cause much more uproar when in high court rather than when in the Supreme Court.

(Solomon 1990) indicated that when it comes to matters of legislature, the government and supporters of the government often strive to have the decisions made in high court. Whereas there maybe some political reasons that are the foundation of such decisions, in many cases it’s all about cost and time. The high court is often quick in the process of decision making. Decisions are made quickly and within the duration of the government. Supreme Court cases on the other hand are quite slow, with judges taking less than ten times. When Supreme Court judges find time to explain legislature, it turns into a battle of wills and minds. Each of the judges often takes an extreme stand on either side. The result is some endless debates which tend to be confusing, time consuming and even costly. The government could easily complete its term before any decision is made. On the other hand, high court decisions though inclusive of intelligence debates and a clash of minds, they are faster. Citizens and voters are more likely to follow high court rulings and they are often quoted in the debate of legislature. They can easily make or break the rulership and authority of a government, hence the concern by the government.

(Taylor-Butler 2008) wrote that the functions of the high court are far more superior often representing the will of the people in legislature and judiciary, as opposed to the supreme court which often represents the will of the people within a particular period.  The high court has the responsibility of ensuring the strength and sanctity of the legislature while the Supreme Court is often more focused on the sanctity of the executive. A Supreme Court judge is often viewed as the voice box of the executive rather than the decision of the people. Despite the strength in the background of the Supreme Court, it has become evident that the interpretation of legislature is not the strength of the supreme judges.  The nature of the Supreme Court is such that it is aloof from the very people it is supposed to protect. Very few Americans understand the importance, role and even nature of the Supreme Court. It remains the utopia of the judiciary system. The high court on the other hand is available to the state citizens who often take the decisions made here as law. The government therefore is often scrambling to contain what a large percentage of the judiciary considers an untamed lion in the system.

(Geyh 2008) cites a case when a former chief justice, John Jay declined to elaborate and explain the importance of a particular foreign policy to the then president, George Washington. The policy came into play and was challenged because of major controversies that came into light following such implementation.  In this case, the Supreme Court was found to have been constitutionally limited to deal with the controversies arising from the policy. On the other hand, the high court when presented with the case was able to make decisions, deem the policy unconstitutional. Based on the example, he shows that the power of the Supreme Court and the authority therefore is limited by the same constitution it is expected to protect.


Green, C. R., & Sanford, W. R. (1990). The judiciary. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Corp.

Healey, K. (1996). The judiciary. Balmain, NSW: Spinney Press.

Rehnquist, W. H. (2001). The Supreme Court. New York: Knopf.

Solomon, D. H. (1999). The political High Court: How the High Court shapes politics. St Leonards, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Taylor-Butler, C. (2008). The Supreme Court. New York: Oxford Univeristy  Press.

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