Supreme Court + Constitution; For This Paper I Had To Discuss The Problems With The Supreme Court Today And It's Role In Interpreting The Constitution

681 words - 3 pages

Today there are many issues surrounding the Supreme Court. In fact, the Supreme Court has been the center of controversy since the signing of the constitution. The justices of the Supreme Court have carved out for themselves the role of serving as final arbiters of the constitution. The Supreme Court is truly, "the highest in the land." For this reason the decisions of the court establish precedents that bind all the courts underneath it. Meaning, all the other courts must bring their decisions into line with the Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitution. Which leads to the main issue I'm going to address in this essay: How should the court interpret the Constitution?First I would like point out the role the Supreme Court plays in our everyday. It is the Supreme Court that explained to Americans why segregated schools denied African Americans the equal protection of laws and why coerced confessions denied criminal defendants the right to a fair ...view middle of the document...

Edwin Messe has the leader of the Conservative argument. Messe believed that the court conveniently construed the Constitution "as an empty vessel into which each generation may pour it's passion and prejudice." As a result, the court decisions represented more policy choices than articulations of the law. Meese's solution to this problem was what he called a "jurisprudence of the original intention" By this he meant that the text of the constitution and the original intent of those who framed it would be the judicial standard in giving effect to it. Any other way, he argued would lead to people twisting the law for their own purpose, or create new power that the framers never wanted to exist. Robert Bork spells out this argument effectively' "We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable of lawyers applying no will but their own."The liberal side was best represented by William Brennan Jr... Brennan is responsible for crafting the decisions of which Meese was complaining. To him jurisprudence of original intention was arrogance. He argued it is impossible to recover the founders precise intent. To him Meese argument was a conservative philosophy designed to turn a blind eye to social progress. Do not forget the original founders were elite democrats. A popular speech he gave once started with the lines, "We current justices read the constitution in the only way that we can: as Twentieth Century Americans. Although the Supreme Court has traditionally been a pillar of elite democracy, Brennan planned to use it to advance the ends of popular democracy. Thus, reading the constitution in order to advance democratic values, judges should not be bound by the fuzzy notion of the original intention.So you see this argument is also a debate between elite and popular democrats. Elite democrats complain that broad interpretation of the Constitution can put a damper on social progress. Populist argue that an activists court that modernizes the Constitution can bring out its popular democratic value. Can a court, despite its elite composition and procedures, advance the goals of democracy? I believe the problem begins, not with the interpretation of the Constitution, but with the individual justices that make the decisions.

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