The Judicial Branch
This is a Free Response Question for my AP Government Class, neglecting sleep I was able to finish it.
Q: The judicial branch is designed to be more independent of public opinion than are the legislature or the executive. Yet, the United States Supreme Court rarely deviates too far long from prevalent public opinion.
a. Describe two ways in which the United States Supreme Court is insulated from public opinion.
b. Explain how two factors work to keep the United States Supreme Court from deviating too far from public opinion.
The Judicial Branch
FRQ # 3
The Judiciary power of the United States is invested in the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court handles such cases as;
“law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;–between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.”
as stated in the US Constitution, Article III, Section 2. The Supreme Court is insulated from public opinion for two main contentions; 1) the Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the president not the people, and 2) They may hold an office indefinitely until either death, retirement, or impeachment. However, even though the Supreme Court is insulated from public opinion, they tend to keep close to public opinion for the following two contentions; 1) as stated in the US Constitution, Article III, Section 1;
“The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior”
which states that a judiciary shall hold their office during “good behavior,” not stating that they cannot be kicked from office, and 2) the Judiciary is usually made up of judges from different points in time, meaning they hold their office indefinitely, and later when one retires, dies, or is impeached, a new judge is appointed, and therefore a mix of judges with different opinions and views work together. They are able to debate and pick the best solution for the nation, which hopefully and usually agrees with public opinion.
The Supreme Court is insulated from public opinion, because the Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the president not the people. The Supreme Court Justices are elected or appointed by the president, and in some cases may not truly represent the people of the United States. Even though the president is elected by the people through the Electoral College, he/she may not truly represent the people. For example, Richard Nixon held an approval rating of 51% in 1973 previous to Watergate according to CNN, and after word dropped to a low of 39% when Watergate was in full swing according to thinkprogress.org. Surely the people didn’t approve of Nixon, and surely enough, he had the power as president to appoint a Judge if there were a space. This judge probably would not represent the people, as the judge would most likely have the same views as Nixon. Another current example is George W. Bush, after his State of the Union Address, his approval rating dropped to 28% according to CBS as of January 22, 2007. Surely any Judge appointed by Bush Jr. would not be in favor of public opinion.
The Supreme Court is insulated from public, because they may hold an office indefinitely until either death, retirement, or impeachment. As stated in the US Constitution, Article III, Section 1, Judges may hold their position by good behavior. There is no precise standard for determining whether a justice has committed an impeachable offense, according to MSN Encarta Encyclopedia. However if removed, the reason should be assumed for criminal or ethical lapses, not for partisan political reasons. No justice has ever been removed; however in 1805 Samuel Chase was impeached by the House by his political enemies, but the Senate did not remove Chase from office when it became apparent that Chase’s opponents were after him, because they disagreed with his decisions, not that he had done any wrong doings. Abe Fortas was nearly convicted in 1969, but left office after accepting a questionable fee from a private organization, and some conservative groups rallied for the removal of Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1960s, but failed. History has shown that; yes, a justice may be removed by impeachment, however it is very hard, and the chances are little. They also have no term limit, and may stay until death. Therefore a Justice may act as they wish without consent of the public.
The Supreme Court tends to keep close to public opinion, because a judiciary shall hold their office during “good behavior,” not stating that they cannot be kicked from office. As stated before, chances of impeachment are little, but the chance still remains. If enough people disagree with a justice, no one is to say that enough people will not rally to impeach a Justice. After the controversy over Abe Fortas’s financial practices, the Court became wearier of its public activities. The Court usually follows the American Bar Association (ABA) Code of Judicial Conduct, and Common practice now dictates that justices remove themselves from politics, refraining from speaking out about controversial issues or pending legislation.
The Supreme Court also tends to keep close to public, because the Judiciary is usually made up of judges from different points in time. The justices hold their office indefinitely, and later when one retires, dies, or is impeached, a new judge is appointed. A mix of judges with different opinions and views work together in this judiciary system. The Supreme Court is made up of nine justices and eight associate justices whom are all appointed by the president and the “advice and consent” of the Senate if there is an open space. These judges, some new and some old have different views enabling only the best discussion and best decisions at the time available, which usually agrees with the people of the United States, otherwise they could rally and have the justices impeached.
The judicial branch is more independent then the legislature or the executive branch, yet they rarely deviate to far from public opinion. The Supreme Court is insulated from public opinion, because the Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the president not the people, and they may hold an office indefinitely until either death, retirement, or impeachment, However, they tend to keep close to public opinion, because a judiciary may be impeached if they do not maintain a standard of good behavior, and the Supreme court is made up of many different views, enabling them to discuss and act in the best interest of the people. The Judiciary Branch plays an important role in the United States; maintaining order through the US Constitution, and playing little role in politics to ensure that they maintain a straight forward non-biased system, protecting the constitution, and enabling no favoritism of any particular party.