Defining the Problem
In 1776, the founding fathers created the Constitution of the United States of America and thus proceeded to build a government “by the people, for the people”. Within those documents, the Supreme Court of the United States was born with the task of upholding the laws of the nation. Those laws were created by representatives of the people sitting in their respective seats of the House of Representatives and the Senate. With each stroke of the founding fathers’ pen, a nation was born with the sole responsibility of fairly governing the people. Ideally, the laws handed down from the legislative branch were to be interpreted and enforced by the judicial branch of government. The Constitution was written with the intention that each branch of government be an effective check on the powers of the other branches. (US Senate 107). A deviation from this grand scheme is the Supreme Court’s belief that the Constitution gives it the power to re-shape the nation through interpretation. Those interpretations made by such a small group of men and women have continued to shape the lives of United States citizens while simultaneously reaching out to dictate the development and continuous changes of bureaucratic policy. This statement begs the question: are the bureaucracies being influenced by the judiciary or is the judiciary bending to the influence of the bureaucracies? If the latter is true, the judiciary has ultimately failed to uphold the duty charged to it by the founding fathers in the Constitution to effectively keep bureaucratic power in check. While it may seem that the judiciary fails to check the power of the bureaucracies, it must be maintained that certain limitations on the judicial branch prevent complete and total judicial review as intended by the Constitution. Among these limitations are such challenges as case selection for judicial review, congressionally and constitutionally developed agency law and policymaking, and of course the personal religious and political beliefs of the Justices. All these barriers contribute to the judiciary being a weak check on bureaucratic power. (Yates 361).
When discussing the constitutionally mandated checks and balances of power within the United States government, many people only relate those transactions between the President of the United States and the legislative branch of government. While these interactions are an important part of the balance of power, the third branch of the government, the judicial branch, quietly waits in the background until given the opportunity to speak. With each decision handed down by the Supreme Court, the President, Congress, numerous agencies and ultimately the citizens of the United States are all affected. It is of value to note here that the Supreme Court is not the only court to hold such power. Local courts across the nation hand down decrees every day that influence the way in which local governments create and instigate policies. The judicial branch of government is tasked with reviewing specific laws and interpreting such laws in whatever way the Court deems justiciable. Many issues never breach the desks of the Supreme Court Justices or are even briefed by their overworked clerks. (Mizer 1303).
The attitudinal, political, and external concerns of the Supreme Court Justices all contribute to the way in which they may perceive and vote on a particular issue. It is observed that:
“…justices may strategically decide to back the bureaucratic agents of a politically powerful (i.e. popular) president who is responsible for enforcing their decrees and who could ultimately act as an ally or a foe (through his veto power) in the event of a Congressional override of a court decision.” (Yates 353).
The President of the United States commands attention from the nation. The Supreme Court views the President’s public prestige as a determining factor as to whether to…