Few at the Founding would have ever imagined the Supreme Court becoming one of the most powerful policymaking institutions in the United States. Yet, the Court has evolved — and it has the power to sidestep public opinion, upend federal legislation, constrain state governance and even bring down the President.
Don’t Worry, It Won’t Be That Powerful
Alexander Hamilton wrote many of the so-called Federalist Papers to persuade citizens of the brand-new United States to support the brand-new Constitution. In one of them, he outlined how the power of the Supreme Court would be minimal. Oregon Law Professor, Alison Gash, explains.
The Worst Supreme Court Decision Ever?
The Supreme Court has certainly issued some remarkable forward-looking and groundbreaking decisions. However, as Amherst Professor Austin Sarat details, there have been some legendary clunkers, as well. In 1896, the Plessy v Ferguson decision upheld that the concept of dividing the races into separate but equal travel facilities was perfectly legal.
He Wanted It To Be Unanimous
In 1954, Earl Warren was the Supreme Court Chief Justice, and he had very different attitudes than those who came before or after him. As U Hartford Professor David Goldenberg explains, when the ruling in Brown vs Board of Education was released, overturning the concept that “separate but equal” schools could be legal, Justice Warren knew it had to be a 9-0 decision.
He Liked Small and Hated Big
Louis Brandeis is among the most famous Supreme Court Justices ever. As Brandeis Professor Daniel Breen explains, he was wary of any entity that became too big and powerful, and that included both private corporations as well as the U.S. government.
Civil Rights, and a Lot More
Belmont University’s David Hudson explains that Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was certainly famous for his civil rights advocacy and decisions. However, he also was a strong supporter of both First Amendment rights and even prisoners’ rights.
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