By William Lewis
The time has come to examine the power of our federal government, particularly the Supreme Court of the United States.
First of all, the nine Justices are appointed for “good behavior,” which means they’re on the bench for life. Is it in the best interest of our democratic system of government that these nine lawyers have the power to rule on every law that is passed by Congress and signed by the president? Every law that is passed can be challenged in court.
The Supreme Court is presented as one of the three co-equal branches of government. However, the power of the federal courts has changed tremendously over the years.
When our Constitution was first written, the federal courts were considered the least powerful of all three branches of government. Constant litigation had the effect of giving the Supreme Court more power over the other two branches of government. It can be expected that Supreme Court Justices appointed around the age of 50 or more years can serve 30 or more years before retiring.
During that period of time, they are not subject to recall by the people. That is to say, they are not subject to being appointed or elected. A government group such as the Supreme Court can only increase their authority.
In Great Britain, no court can overturn a law passed by Parliament. The House of Commons decides which laws are passed and remain in effect.
In Israel, like Great Britain, there is no Constitution. That is to say, their Parliament decides which laws go into effect and how they are implemented.
The Supreme Court has an advantage over the other two branches of government, since both of the other branches were elected by the people, and must continually face the people in elections. The executive branch of government is subject to term limits, something that the Supreme Court does not face.
With only nine members on the court, they can, over a period of time, become more powerful than they ever were. It becomes increasingly difficult for the other two branches of government to successfully challenge the authority of the federal judiciary.
The Supreme Court has for the last 60 years involved itself in social issues. They have for the most part avoided economic and foreign policy issues. It can be said that the Supreme Court can be considered as a board of directors of our federal government.
In summary, all our legislative members are elected to office. It is also true of those who hold executive positions in government. It is time for our government to examine the powers of the three branches and how they proceed. There needs to be more democratic control over the judicial system in the federal government. We must always have as our goal the maintaining of democratic values.