Supreme Court Myths
Supreme Court Myths
Matthew Jones (Political Science Instructor) gives expert video advice on: Myth- Only the Supreme Court can legally interpret the Constitution?; Myth- Only lawyers can be appointed to the Supreme Court?; Myth- Supreme Court decisions are final?
Myth- Only the Supreme Court can legally interpret the Constitution?
The President and Congress are also given the responsibility to interpret the Constitution. Now there is one big reason for this, which is that a lot of times they are making laws or doing actions that they have to interpret the Constitution to figure out if they think it's constitutional. The Supreme Court can't tell them whether it's constitutional. The Supreme Court can only rule on constitutional matters after they've already been done and somebody has challenged them in court and it's gone through the court system up to the Supreme Court, which usually takes one to two years after the fact. Obviously the President can't wait one to two years after the fact before he makes a decision, which is the fact. So the President and Congress has to determine for themselves and interpret the Constitution for themselves and whether they think what they're doing is constitutional or not.
Myth- Only lawyers can be appointed to the Supreme Court?
It is not true that only lawyers can be Supreme Court justices or, actually, any other judges in the Federal Court system. The president can actually nominate whoever he wants to, and a lot of times does. He can nominate the guy who picks up his garbage as a Supreme Court justice. And as long as the Senate approves him, that guy gets a job promotion from garbage man to Supreme Court justice, and that's the truth. No, you do not have to be a lawyer to be a Federal judge or a Supreme Court justice.
Myth- Supreme Court decisions are final?
No. The Supreme Courts decisions are not necessarily final. For one thing, the Supreme Court has no constitutional powers, or no powers whatsoever, over the military, over the police force, over any other enforcement agency, and it has no power over the federal purse-over where money goes. So, in order for any of it's decisions to be enforced, it has to rely on the president and congress to enforce them. So, the Supreme Court really gets it's power from people thinking that it is legitimate; that it has authority. Because it doesn't have any power, it only has legal authority. And if people start to think that it doesn't have legal authority, then politicians and people can start ignoring it, and there's nothing the Supreme Court can do about it.