The US Supreme Court has a number of powers. These include the power to declare acts of Congress, the executive or state legislatures unconstitutional through the power of judicial review. The supreme court justices are also given the power to interpret the constitution when making decisions, again, through their power of judicial review. It is arguable that it is essential for the supreme court to have such powers in order to allow the American democracy to flourish. However, there is much evidence to suggest that the supreme court holds too much power for an unelected body, thus hindering democracy.
The ambiguity of the constitution means that there is much room …show more content…
Furthermore, the power of the Supreme Court is actually very limited due to the checks and balances system set up by the founding fathers. Congress has the power of impeachment. This means that should any of the justices overstep their power, or cause corruption, Congress can impeach them. In 1968 Associate Justice Abe Fortas resigned just before facing certain impeachment. Although impeachment is very rare, the constant threat of impeachment ensures that justices are simply interpreting the constitution rather than acting in their own interest which preserves a democracy.
There are also checks by the president on the supreme court. The president has the power to nominate the justices and therefore has the power to influence the philosophy of the supreme court. There has been an evident change in the philosophy of the court between 1968 and 2008. The court has moved from being mostly appointed by Democratic presidents like Roosevelt and Kennedy to a more Conservative court appointed by Republican presidents like Raegan and Bush. Obama replaced Conservative Souter with Liberal Sotomayor in 2009. This check is good for a democracy because it means that the philosophy of the court is likely to reflect the philosophy of the president