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I'm often amused anytime the Supreme Court becomes the center of attention, because people carry such a false impression of the court, until they actually see it in action.  On both the left and right, there are cases which drive outsiders nuts.

People have this image of these somber apolitical figures sorting through the fine detail of the law.  Not only is that false, but it has been since the court's first formation.  They didn't even have a building when they started out.

The term "supreme" court in the constitution is about as defined as the difference between a taco and a taco supreme.  The supreme simply meant that they could overrule conflicts between state level courts.  Every power beyond that has been entirely fabricated by various justices.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

We assume that the court can compel congress or the President, but the constitution doesn't really articulate that power.  Of course any challenge to that interpretation would end up in the supreme court, so the deck is kind of stacked.

Still, if the President and congress chose to ignore a supreme, there really wouldn't been an enforcement method to make the court's authority stick.

Right now in the federal court system there splits between different districts, and the supreme court has allowed these splits to exist for decades.  That basically means federal law varies by geography, but oh well.

Most here would probably say the supreme court's primary function in to determine the "constitutionality" of any given law.  Really?  How did they get that power?

They had that power because they didn't want to wade into a political fight between a justice of the peace and the secretary of state (Marbury v. Madison).  To avoid doing so, the court determined that it would be "unconstitutional" for them to take the case.

So the greatest federal power in our government was a result of six guys trying to avoid creating bad blood by taking sides in a personal dispute in their social circles.  Don't believe me, look it up for yourself.

From that point on the court had the power to interpret the constitution.  They could override federal law, a power which was never envisioned by the founders.  The founders thought congress passing a law and the president signing it was a pretty solid justification for a law.

The court has always made political decisions based on individual justices.  They have made rulings only to undo those rulings a few years later.  They have created in depth philosophical justifications based on three words in the constitution taken entirely out of context.  They have created precedent from unrelated legal disputes, and at other times chose to ignore precedent altogether.

The constitution would have the supreme court resolving differences between lower courts, so that federal law is consistent across the nation.  Instead nine justices pick and choose, which cases they will hear based on how interesting they feel a case is.

Forget any noble view you've been indoctrinated with.  They just seem better, because most of the time we forget that they exist.

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