Supreme Court vs congressional power

Supreme Court vs congressional power

Structure and Membership

  • The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US judicial system composed of nine justices, while Congress is a legislative body consists of two houses - The Senate (100 senators) and House of Representatives (435 members).
  • Members of the Supreme Court are appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate, while members of Congress are elected by the people, with Representatives serving two year terms and Senators serving six year terms.

Powers and Roles

  • The Supreme Court’s main role is to interpret the constitution, deciding on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress and state legislatures, a power granted by precedent in the court case Marbury v. Madison.
  • Congress on the other hand, has the power to draft and pass legislation, control the federal budget, and declare war. It also shares some powers with the President such as treaty ratification and approval of presidential appointments.
  • While the Supreme Court can declare laws unconstitutional, it cannot initiate laws. Conversely, Congress can initiate and pass laws, but it cannot declare them unconstitutional.

Checks and Balances

  • The Supreme Court has the power to limit Congressional power by declaring their laws unconstitutional in a process known as judicial review. This ensures the laws and actions of Congress adhere to the principles of the Constitution.
  • Congress can check the power of the Supreme Court through the amendment process by passing a constitutional amendment to negate a court ruling, a power which requires two-thirds majority in both houses and ratification by three-fourths of states.
  • Additionally, Congress can impeach and remove justices from the Supreme Court, a process which has been attempted but never successfully performed against a Supreme Court justice.
  • The Senate has the power to reject the Presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, allowing Congress a certain level of control over the Court’s membership.

Influence and Impact

  • The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review allows it to make decisions with broad-ranging impacts on social, political, and legal issues in the US, shaping the interpretation of law.
  • Congress has legislative power which allows it to have a major role in defining public policy, shaping the nation’s laws, and having a far-reaching impact on people’s daily lives. Their decisions can also be challenged and possibly overturned by the Supreme Court.