The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in 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.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction.
In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and “under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”
This is a key line in Article III, section 2 of the United States Constitution that creates the Supreme Court of the United States. What this line says is that Congress has the right and obligation to regulate what the Supreme Court does. It was written as part of the Checks and Balances system the founders pushed to make sure that all three branches of Government were Co-Equal without one being “Supreme” to the other.
Many historic and legal scholars believe that at the time of the writing and ratification of the Constitution, the Supreme Court was seen more as the final step in the appellate process of the legal system to resolve disputes between the states, based on the Constitution and established law. Though they could question the “constitutionality” of a law passed by Congress and signed by the Executive, they had no authority to actually rule it as “Unconstitutional”. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say they have that authority. What the Constitution does say is that both chambers of Congress can enact legislation and the Executive can sign that legislation into law. Certainly the Supreme Court was never given the ability to “legislate from the bench” their purpose is to interpret from the bench and that was all.
Congress in the Constitution has the ability to regulate the Supreme Court and determine what they can or cannot act upon. That is clear and unambiguous in the reading of Article III, section 2. At no time in history did the Congress and Executive branch grant the Supreme Court the authority to make null and void a law passed and signed by the other two branches of government, only the ability to interpret and advice.
It was Marbury v Madison, where the Supreme Court gave itself the ability to determine if a law was constitutional and void it if they deemed it wasn’t. This act confounded then President Thomas Jefferson. Though pissed, he really took no action to what the John Marshall Court did. From that time forward however, there was a tenuous relationship between the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court. During the Jefferson Administration, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase was actually impeached in the House, but not convicted in the Senate. In Worcester v Georgia, President Andrew Jackson was so pissed at the ruling of the Marshall Court he was heard to have said, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!” stating that in reality, without the other two branches of government, the Supreme Court has no authority to enforce its rulings.
The Supreme Court didn’t challenge the Constitutionality of any Act passed by Congress and signed by the Executive branch until 1857 with the Dred Scott decision, that was one of the major events leading to the Civil War. In fact, from 1789 through 2002 the Supreme Court only held 158 Acts of Congress and signed by the President as Unconstitutional.
Since 2002 through 2014, nineteen more Acts were found to be Unconstitutional. Each time they do so, they cite back to Marbury v Madison as their basis and justification to do this. They do not cite the Constitution or regulations from Congress, only the institution’s own act.
Currently the Justices of the Supreme Court, who enjoy lifetime appointments as do all Federal Judges are not require to adhere to the Federal Code of Judicial Conduct as are the rest of the Judges and Justices on the Federal Bench.
If they were, there would be some serious issues to be brought against both Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas for their relationships with certain billionaire brothers who have had cases before them. There would also be issues with Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito for not holding true to many of the things they swore to uphold before the Senate during their confirmation hearings.
Any other Judge or Justice would be facing serious ethics review, if not disbarment for some of the conservative justices actions since taking the bench. But these “Supremes” feel they are above the law, above the constitution and above the ethical code of conduct expected of an attorney, let alone a Justice. But again why shouldn’t they? Who will hold them accountable?
The fact of the matter is, currently in the House, there is legislation being pushed to hold the Justices of the Supreme Court accountable to the Federal Code of Judicial Conduct.
If Congress wanted to act, they can use their unambiguous right under Article III section 2 to regulate how these Justices are permitted to conduct themselves. Congress has the ability to also impeach Justices. It has been done before.
However this current Congress won’t act as long as it is under Republican Control or if there are enough Republicans in the House and Senate to block long overdue and needed reform to a Supreme Court running amok in order to cater to the wealthiest of Americans over the needs of the ordinary Americans. From Citizen’s United through Hobby Lobby this Supreme Court is creating more damage to the fabric of this nation than at any time since Dred Scott.
Congress can act, but you need to elect a Congress willing to serve ordinary Americans to control a Supreme Court who’s only concern for a small but powerful oligarchy. So in reality, in this democracy or representative republic, whatever you want to call it, the Supreme Court isn’t the final say in any action of legislated law, its the voting power of the public, you, who have the final say. All you need to do is be active, tell your Congressional representative how you feel about what is going on in the Supreme Court and back it up with your votes.
As always, get educated, get motivated, get registered and vote. All branches of government of the people, need the people to exercise their vote.