Defining supreme

Since the case of  Marbury v. Madison many have held that our supreme court has the power to overturn national laws that it says violate the intent of the constitution.

Determining intent is not done consistently but instead the method changes depending upon what the justices need to justify their ruling.  Sometimes the plain words of the constitution are used and other times they use “clauses” that not contain verbs like “general welfare” to try to justify their positions.

John Marshall was the chief justice of the court that ruled in Marbury.  Marbury had been appointed justice of the peace  by outgoing president John Adams in an effort to stack the judiciary with “midnight judges”.  Congress had approved of the appointment.

The written commission needed to be delivered by the secretary of state, John Marshall.  Marshall failed to deliver it.

Thomas Jefferson, the incoming president refused to recognize Marbury’s appointment.  Marbury took it to court.

Incredibly the chief justice of the supreme court (John Marshall) who at the same time was the secretary of state who failed to deliver the commission agreed to sit on the case.  Most of us would say that at the least he should have recused himself.

Instead Marshall took the opportunity to craft law and now, because enough good people stood by and did nothing, we have a situation where people that are not elected get to tell the country what the law is.

The framers of our constitution did not include language that gave the supreme court that kind of power.  In fact the supreme court was thought to be so insignificant that it did not even have it’s own building until 1935, almost 150 years after the adoption of our constitution.  The original justices were given the responsibility of traveling within their respective districts to hear cases for eight months out of each year.  Even during the Marshall era of the court the justices only met together for two months each year.

Some will argue that the court has overstepped its bounds.  Others will say that the actions were necessary.

Either way, wouldn’t we be better off if we amended our constitution to define what powers the justices do and do not have?

We deserve better


7 Responses to Defining supreme

  1. U says:

    NO. Their duties are quite apparent. They are a co equal branch of government charged with the duties of passing judgment on those cases that come before them.

    While you may not like the system it has worked very well for 200 plus years and will do so for centuries to come. What we have is groups who fail at the Supreme Court now wanting to rewrite the Constitution so they can get their way.


  2. ManintheMoon says:

    The main problem with the Supreme Court is something that cannot be legislated that is morals and ethics of each justice to leave there personal interest, politics and other doctrines out side of chamber on the court house steps where they belong. No amount of attempts of change to the Constitution can fix this if the jurist of the Highest Court in the land does not make the choice to restrain themselves in acting in such self interest when interpreting the Constitution.


    • Reality Checker says:

      Funny how that works. A lot of the self-proclaimed strict constitutionalists don’t like it when they don’t get their way under the same constitution they tout when it suits their purposes. It’s also interesting to watch people go ballistic when their own party’s SCOTUS appointees issue rulings that go against the party’s ideology and agenda.


  3. Uh, Brutus, you can’t have it both ways. On the one hand you go on about how John Marshall shaped the SCOTUS, making it a force to reckon with. Then, you say the SCOTUS was so insignificant that they did not even have their own building until about a hundred years after he left the Court! That second datum kind of shuts down your stated position. Worse, any time I see that phrase (as Deputy implies, taken right from the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, and rAbbott) about “people that are not elected get to tell the country what the law is,” I know that the person using it is missing the whole point of the Constitution. We do not want to mess with the SCOTUS as it is constituted, but we could use some replacements for certain vendidos who are currently sitting there.


    • Brutus says:

      “…the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional, and what are not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature & Executive also, in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.“- Thomas Jefferson


  4. Deputy Dawg says:

    Sounds like someone’s been listening to a little too much Glenn Beck and spending a little too much time reading the Greg Abbot Fan Page website…grin

    Next up: Brutus will Call for us to take over the BLM land between El Paso and Las Cruces and then we will have to take over the Farm and Ranch Museum….


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