Misconceptions of the Role of the US Supreme Court

While the duties and responsibilities of the US Supreme Court has been clearly defined in the Constitution of the United States, there have been a number of myths that have sprung up with the manner on the role of the US Supreme Court in US politics and justice which have led to a number of misconceptions about the role of the US Supreme Court. One of the misconceptions that have developed towards the US Supreme Court is that the US Supreme Court usurps the judicial power and authority of the lower courts in the United States as well as various departments in the US government.

This misconception sprung as a result of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the cases of Marbury versus Madison, Martin versus Hunter’s Lee and Cohens versus Virginia. In each of these cases, the US Supreme Court had reviewed the proceedings and rulings passed down. This move has caused many to criticize the US Supreme Court to be overstepping its boundaries and as a result, practicing usurpation of power in these cases (Miller 1978). However, this is not the case. One of the primary functions of the US Supreme Court as a tribunal in the United States is to first determine the competence of a particular court or department within the country’s government to handle the central issue of the case.

When the US Supreme Court has been satisfied that the department of the government or court is competent enough to handle the case, the US Supreme Court no longer sees a need to review the case filed by the parties involved (Miller 1978). Another common myth or misconception with regards to the US Supreme Court is the fact that it is an undemocratic judicial body. This is with regards to the fact that the Associate Justices in the US Supreme Court are not elected by their peers or by the general public. Instead, they are appointed into office by the President of the United States.

This have caused questions in relation to the credibility and the belief that many of those that have been appointed is due to the relationship that the Associate Justice may have with the President of the United States and members of the Senate. While this may be so, Associate Justices remain bound by their obligations and duties to the general public to remain as the conscience of the American public when it comes to presiding and reviewing court cases that have been passed on to them by State courts and government agencies.

On top of this, it should be remembered that while an Associate Justice may have the potential to be in power for a life’s term in the US Supreme Court, certain statutes in the United States Code are utilized by the Judicial Conference to evaluate on their performance. As such, any form of mishandling on the part of the Associate Justice on the power bestowed on him or her would be subsequently cause the US Congress to file a motion of impeachment against the Associate Justice (Miller 1978).

Conclusion This paper has presented information with regards to the functions of the US Supreme Court. While it remains to be the highest judicial office in the country today, the US Supreme Court, being a federal court, is only limited to the kinds of cases and legal matters it may hear and review. Only cases involving the constitutionality of the law of the country would be heard by the US Supreme Court. Majority of the jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court lies in its distinction as the final tribunal to oversee and hear petitions from parties who have been unsatisfied with decisions made by other federal courts, particularly the US Court of Appeals. It was also stated that while it is the highest tribunal in the country, its power to overturn rulings made in State courts is only made possible on a case-to-case basis.

Apart from this, the US Supreme Court is also responsible for the evaluation and filing of recommended procedures to be followed by the lower courts to the Legislative bodies of the country for implementation. This is all in fulfillment of the US Supreme Court to ensure that the US Constitution, treaties, laws and other statutes passed are objectively understood and interpreted by the parties involved.

References

  • Miller, A. S.  (1978).  The Supreme Court: myth and reality.  Westport, CT: Greenwood             Press.
  • S. Courts. (2008). Comparing federal and State Courts System.  Retrieved from             http://www.uscourts.gov/outreach/resources/comparefedstate.html.
  • S. Courts. (2008). Judicial Conference.  Retrieved from http://www.uscourts.gov/    faq.html.
  • USSC.  (2007).  The court and constitutional interpretation.  Retrieved from             http://www.usscplus.com/info/interp.htm.
  • S. Supreme Court. (2008). A brief overview of the Supreme Court.  Retrieved from             https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/briefoverview.pdf.
  • S. Supreme Court. (2008). The court as an Institution.  Retrieved from             http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/institution.pdf.