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American Government A Critique of The Supreme Court

The American Supreme Court is a well-rounded look at the creation and nature of the Supreme Court. The author, Robert G. McCloskey, starts off with a look at how people felt about the Court when it was created, giving the reader a feel for the time. It continues on to explain the importance of the creation event using specific details. By making the reader feel proud of being a part of such a great system, the reader is drawn into the book and grows anxious to read on.

As the reader goes on information is given about what kind of power was intended for the Supreme Court and a debate is formulated about whether the Court is Constitutionally just. The point is made that the Constitution gives Congress the power to create any court system it feels necessary but the question is asked, does the constitution guarantee the Supreme Court’s has final authority. Many of the Forefathers seem to have created the Court in the hope that it would keep the other branches of the government in check according to the Constitution.

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As the first section goes on, explaining the nature of the Supreme court’s power, and telling of the checks and balances that keep the court from gaining more power than is necessary, by only allowing the court to rule on an issue if it is presented in the form of a case. It points out that the power given is that of a court’s power as well as something more. A number of facts are debated, such as whether or not the court should play a large part in directing the states. The overall nature of the court’s power is covered and presented in a form, which is at times confusing and roundabout, but always backed up by reasoning and examples that justify the court’s power or lack thereof.

The next section goes on to tell of how the power of the Court was viewed by the people at the beginning of the courts’ history and how the court itself did not allow itself a great deal of power. The Court went as far as to turn power that it felt was unconstitutional down. While the public did not always see a reason for the court, the court itself knew the important role it would play in the future of the country. They knew that it would have to find support in the belief that would stand apart and defended the fundamentals of the country. Pre Marshall justices made many mistakes. They spoke plainly and thus supported a doctrine that hindered the concrete interests of most of the states. The result of the hindrance was protested that were very strong and created a small loss of the Court’s power.

Adams appointed John Marshall to Chief Justice as one of his last acts of office. For his first few years, Marshall tried to get the court on the ground solid enough to make decisions and have them upheld. A number of examples are given to demonstrate Marshall’s genius and ingenuity. Examples of how he reasoned his way to decisions that other courts found unconstitutional or could not decide on and how he got his reasoning to stick through the use of examples, previous rulings and common sense. It shows how Marshall was able to give the Supreme Court feet to stand on and teeth to bite within the government system. While the examples do not always present the information in a manner that is easy to understand it does provide all the pertinent information and everything is backed up with examples.

In 1810 the court finally felt the power to overturn a state law that was unconstitutional, this brought about a new era for the Court. The court was faced with a number of questions pertaining to its judgment ability and finality of its decisions. Marshall overcame these boundaries and moved the court onward and upward. The Court treaded carefully always knowing that Congress could take away the power the court had been building for decades now, any day they felt like it. The men of the court only had their intellects and robes to challenge the power of congress and the government. This seemed a great disadvantage to the justices of the time but in the long run, the court could see it had an advantage because it did not have to deal with temporary concerns of the government, instead it could look at the future and the long-term goals.

One of the seemingly great disadvantages to the court is its lack of organized parties to call on for guidance. While the court did not have parties to fall back on it did have a number of allies that would back it up with public support. The backup was one of the greatest strong points of the Marshall reign along with his development and acceptance of doctrines.

Taney was put into the court, and after Marshall’s death, he became Supreme Court Justice. He was dedicated to keeping the use of constitutional doctrines in moderation. Taney felt that states could regulate commerce as long as it did not interfere with federal laws. This idea scared a number of people, because of the fear of monopoly. Part of this decision was the decision as to whether or not the Supreme Court could allow states to control economic matters. It was greatly debated as to whether or not the ability of states to enforce commerce laws was constitutionally just. IT did not fit neatly into the fairness for all people amendment, causing it to be questioned.

The power of taxation was an issue that was difficult to form a rule for that would limit it. The constitution was of little help in this matter. The 1894 act, which imposed a tax of 2 percent on all incomes above four thousand dollars, started a war between the rich and the poor which still flares up on occasion today.

The Court played a vital part in the modern affairs of the Republic but it needed new interests and a new set of guides. The nation vs. state problems of the past and the business vs. government problems were taken from the Court by history. The Court now needed a new role to serve in the government system. The new relationship would be most concerned with the individual citizen and the government. The Court wanted more than ever to keep from inhibiting people’s freedom of expression and end racial discrimination. The court stopped its practice of no longer automatically ruling in the favor of businesses and this alarmed many businesses men who used to the court ruling in their favour. This was difficult for some of the public to understand but over time the people began siding with the court’s decisions over personal issues.

The court has had a long history that lends itself to the present-day court. This past not only reflects on the court in its history of people but its history of cases. On this same note, the people who have sat on the court’s bench in the past directly reflect on the men and women who sit there today. The cases that have been tried by the court are still referred to in the present-day to make decisions on cases. Use of the Court’s past makes knowing the history of the Court vital. Without a past to build on the court would not be able to have a future. This ruling on today’s cases by using the rulings of the past is called judicial review and is the lifeblood of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has played a more important role in society than any of the founding fathers ever thought the Court would. The reason there was so little time given to the Court during its creation is because the father felt it was not going to be a vital part of the government. As time progressed the Supreme Court began to play a more important role in the monitoring of the government, businesses, and other issues. It is because of the Supreme Court that we have many of the rights that we do. Without the Court to interpret the constitution and civil rights, and make it so that large businesses and government didn’t swallow people it is possible that slavery would still be in effect or desegregation would never have occurred. The American people can rest easy at night knowing that there are nine men and women in Washington who are looking out for their rights.

As I started to read The American Supreme Court I questioned what information I would gain that would be relevant to my everyday life. By the end of the book I was overwhelmed with information that not only provided a great deal of information about the Supreme Court but with a new perception on how the government is run and how the Supreme Court affects my everyday life. It started off talking about how the Court was set up by the founding fathers, which I found rather boring. It was not interesting to read specifics about how they set up the court but I did find it interesting to read about the way people felt about the government and the court at the time.

The perspective from which the people viewed the role of the court drew me further into the book and helped hold my interest. While reading on and learning about the court and how it moulded this great nation into the superpower it is, I became very comforted by the fact that the constitution is such a flexible document that it was able to cover all aspects of life, despite being written so far back in the early years of the country. The Constitution is what the Court ultimately bases its decisions on but as well as the constitution it bases decisions on the decisions of the past which are based on the constitution. The constant building upon the past has been one of the greatest builders of the country.

The book provides a relatively detailed history of the Court not only in the way it was shaped but the people and landmark cases that helped it along. The information about the Supreme Court Justices over the years was vital to the reader’s ability to understand the timeline of the events of the Court. As well as the information about the Justices the information about the landmark cases was vital as well. Each important case over the years has had a landmark decision that is still referred to often in today’s legal world when deciding cases. The examples of cases demonstrated the theory of Jurist Prudence and showed how this important practice has been vital to today’s Supreme Court and all the lower courts around the country.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country causing any decision that is made by it important to all lower courts as well. Any decision made by the Supreme Court reigns supreme and must be followed by all lower courts. The decisions are not necessarily permanent but a lower court can not override the decision of the Supreme Court nor can a state go against a practice that is initiated by the Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court can override a previous ruling.

The book outlines the importance of the ability of the Supreme Court to set standards for all lower courts and states through the examples of landmark cases that shaped the court. In this light, the example of cases given are not just examples of cases but also building blocks of democracy and equality. They are building blocks because they are built upon and used as a standard when cases come along. They are blocks of equality in the fact that they are unbiased and equal to all people, in the fact that the decisions are distributed across the country through the lower courts and the states which must uphold all the Courts decisions.

This brief look at the Supreme Court is perfect for every man and woman who feels that they should know a little about this great country they live in and the system of government that runs it. The great blend of information about the creation of the court and the history it has created along the way lends itself to the everyday reader who would have trouble understand the complicated legal jargon that the cases tried by the Supreme Court have created over the years. As the reader, reads along he or she learns all that is necessary about how the court works in conjunction with the rest of the government and how it comes to be that the Supreme Court hears a case and how one becomes a judge on the Court.

All the information present in this book is vital to anyone who deals with the United States government, which is anyone who lives in or deals with the United States of America, whether it be through commerce or just wants to visit. While the forefathers did not plan for the Supreme Court to be a large branch of the government it turned out that it became one of the most vital veins of the government, this fact alone makes this book invaluable.

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American Government A Critique of The Supreme Court. (2021, Feb 15). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from