The 1803 Supreme Court Case, Marbury v Madison, broke many grounds then and in our recent times, still affects the United States judicial system. Marbury v Madison expanded the concept of Judicial Review—which grants the courts the power to declare laws unconstitutional as through their interpretation of the Constitution and as an effect, gives the courts power to make laws as well. The judicial branch already had these enumerated in the Constitution but through the court ruling of Marbury v Madison reinforced these powers.
The concept of judicial review after Marbury v Madison has garnered mixed reactions. In Federalist Paper #78, Hamilton states that the judicial branch is considered to be the least restricted branch in the United States. Article 3 of the Constitution is the shortest and arguably most vague. Some feel like the judicial review is unnecessary because the judicial branch is the least democratic. The American public does not elect judges and Supreme Court justices and their terms are life terms. It is argued that since the American people do not vote for the Supreme Court justices, they should not have the power to create laws as they might not be a proportional representation of the population. As a result, some feel like that in Marbury v Madison court decision overstep their boundary by agreeing with denying William Madison his commission was illegal and but nonetheless declared the case as unconstitutional because he went straight to the Supreme Court instead of starting in a lower level court (implying he would have won had he done the latter). Thus, expanding
On the other hand, others view judicial review as a good thing since justices serve lifelong terms, the courts have higher probabilities of being more stable than the other two branches. The executive and legislative branches are more prone to instability since elected officials are limited to two to six year terms and in theory, there is 50/50 chance either party can take control—one term could have a Democrats in control and the next could have Republicans in power. The American political climate is polarized amongst voters and political elites, perhaps having a more concrete judicial branch would be the most beneficial. While Supreme Court justices have to be nominated but the president and approved by the Senate, they are not subjected to the same pressure to conform like other elected officials must do. While yes, a president will nominate a candidate who shares similar ideologies; once the justice is approved, they do not have to please anyone in order to stay in their positon.
Personally, the issue with the Supreme Court is not exactly judicial review itself, but the type of role the court should enact. Many argue that the Supreme Court should follow a broad approach, while others feel that a more stricter approach should be followed. The Supreme Court should be somewhere in the middle— it serves as a necessary evil. Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the judicial branch can make laws, only to interpret them; adding to the conflict is the supremacy clause, which states that whatever decision supreme court makes in a case, it is now the law of the land.
The judicial system then and now is vastly different. In the last two hundred years, many social and political changes that have occurred, and only taking in consideration of the what is written in the Constitution is a closed-minded viewpoint. When the Framers wrote the Constitution in a closed-off mindset, not only did they omit the rights of the women but there is no mention of what would become of the slaves living during that time; in addition, the Framers have no idea of what would become the nation in the generations afterward. That does not mean that the Supreme Court should disregard the Constitution as it is the pivotal foundation of our nation’s politics but it should be interpreted to fit the current population of American citizens. While there is a lot of activism in the executive and legislative branch, the role of the judicial branch as stated in Federalist Paper 78, is to act a peacekeeper to keep the other two branches in check. The The judicial branch’s role in the complex American political system is to step in when the other branches attempt to overpower one another while trying to keep their own power in place.
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