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American Politics and Society - Essay Example

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Is the United States Supreme Court an aid or a fetter to democracy? Tutor College Date The Supreme Court of the United States can neither be termed as democratic nor undemocratic, to some American’s delight and others dismay. It is a crucial tool for American democracy but it presents a lot of controversy and paradox in some of its rulings…
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American Politics and Society
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Download file to see previous pages There have been frequent replacements of justices who have kept the Supreme Court attuned to the side of majority opinion. This fact finds support both theoretically, empirically and practically. Chief justice Rodger Taney and John Marshall have been replaced in mysterious circumstances. These replacement mechanisms have not been proven to be effective since the American citizens have occasionally raised eyebrows to the decisions made by the Court. There has been a definite number of years that a chief justice should remain in power. Between 1972 and 2004, a new justice could be appointed after a period of 4 years (Olshansky, 2010, p 90). In the recent past, justices have been appointed even after a tenure of 2 years. This has destabilized the Supreme Court as gaps have been left. Public trust has been lost and the minority does not see any need to seek a relief of the court. The attitudes and moods of many Supreme Court justices have been seen to shift regularly and significantly over time. Literature on public opinion on judicial decision making has suggested that judicial attitudes and changes in moods do reflect external social forces. However, attitudinal changes may be common among the justices as it is contrary thought. In the United States, the Courts mandate and the power to strike down the set laws and regulations expounds why this institution has received much criticism as an anti-democratic Court. An American scholar, Alexander Bickel from Yale, once supported this hypothesis and said that the Supreme Court was a deviant institution in the democracy of America (Rossum, 2001, p 56). It is an enemy of democracy as it exercises control against the prevailing majority which is contrary to the basics of democracy. At the beginning of the Republic, the Supreme Court was weaker than the president and the Congress. It observed a lot of care to win the faith of the public by passing only two federal laws between 1803 and 1857. The words of Justice Sandra Day Connor, that the judicial independence was under threat of influence by the powerful, have come to pass. Those who framed the U.S constitution expressed their reservations that the Supreme Court will one day be a threat to democracy (Yalof & Dautrich, 2013, 89). This is because it was seen as an institution that lacked money and soldiers to enforce its decrees. They also refuted the idea that the Court was inherently anti-democratic. If the Court would strike down the state and federal laws, it will be promoting democracy rather than thwarting it. The Court has been on the opposite side of the perceived will of those who framed the U.S constitution. In summary, the U.S citizens have accepted a large duty of the judicial branch in its undemocratic nature. The inherent mistrust of concentrated, seemingly unlimited authority, has given many American citizens a pause. A constitutional amendment, despite its complex nature of changing it, is welcome to reform the Supreme Court. Any institution, which is an enemy of democracy, is also an enemy of the people. It is very dangerous for people to trust an institution which will eventually turn them down. The status quo of the U.S Supreme Court cannot propel the democracy of Americans to any notch higher. A judicial system should be nonpartisan and should consider the effect of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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