What Is the Supreme Court?
By Michael Beecher / t4cnews.org
Aug 13, 2014

What is the supreme court?

To some this may sound like a silly question but if you’re anything like me you didn’t fully understand the United States government until later in life and if then only by choice. Maybe it’s different in other countries or in the school that you went to, but I don’t remember learning much about my government and how important it was to my life and the future of the country I called home. I had one class on government topics in middle school, along with 6 other subjects, just being a kid, hanging out with friends and puberty to deal with; needless to say, I didn’t remember much of what I had crammed for exams in that class years later as I became an adult.

So, I had to educate myself later in life. This article is for people like me that need a quick refresher course on topics related to government.

General info: Wikipedia

The Supreme Court of the United States (first abbreviated as SCOTUS in 1879)[1] was established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution in 1789 as the highest federal court in the United States. It has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, plus original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. In the legal system of the United States, the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of federal constitutional law, although it may only act within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction.

The Court consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they resign, retire, take senior status, or are removed after impeachment (though no justice has ever been removed in history). In modern discourse, the justices are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. Each justice has one vote, and while many cases are decided unanimously, many of the highest profile cases often expose ideological beliefs that track with those philosophical or political categories.

In other words, the SCOTUS is the supreme law of the land within the United States. It was the Supreme Court that ultimately made landmark decisions such as Lochner v. New York, Roe v. Wade, and Brown v. Board of Education.

What about the more recent case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which changed the long standing view that the first amendment did not apply to corporations ultimately giving giant multinational, privately owned companies the same legal rights as people. This case began as an issue of people being against extremely wealthy and influential corporations financing advertisements and campaign efforts for specific candidates in elections. Why, for many reasons but possibly one of the biggest is that it makes it even more difficult for nominees in elections to compete with corporate backed opponents giving third parties such as the Green Party hardly no chance at all without the massive funding it takes to make your voice heard across the media in the United States. The end result many claim is that you have a government bought and paid for, not a government of the people that represents the average middle class family.

This has led to other controversial cases such as Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby where corporations can now claim exemptions from certain laws because of religious beliefs. So essentially what recent cases decided by our current Supreme Court Justices do is make it so that the large corporations taking over commerce and the economy in the United States by sheer size and influence are now given similar rights and freedoms as the individual. It’s not such a bad thing if your beliefs about life match up with multimillionaires and billionaires, but it’s a scary thing for the average everyday working person without that kind of money or influence if their beliefs happen to disagree. Most people that oppose these recent decisions are also opposed to huge wealth and income inequalities or believe that concentrated wealth combined with political influence changes the very essence of democracy and the country becomes more of an Oligarchy.

Their is also on-going debate as to the power federal law should have over state law, with some believing government should be more localized to better handle decisions for that specific state and others believing that state governments becoming “too un-united” goes against the concept of a “United States”. This goes back to pre-civil war and civil rights eras where certain states wanted to maintain laws allowing slavery, racism and segregation.

The overall picture that I hope has been painted in this short article is that the Supreme Court of the United States has a lot of authority, and the decisions that these 9 individuals make impact all of us in so many ways. It’s kind of scary, at least when you think about it from this perspective. To corrupt the government hundreds of people have to become corrupt, but to corrupt the Supreme Court only 5 people have to become corrupt. To corrupt a democratic country, the majority of citizens have to either not be paying attention, not get involved or become corrupt, but to corrupt a dictatorship, only one person has to become corrupt. If nothing else, the amount of power the Supreme Court has is far from democratic when applied to an entire country of 300+ million citizens with decisions left to only nine individuals. I am sure the intention is noble and I could study the history some more to find out, but the mere fact that combined with corruption or simply five out of nine individuals with shared and biased views, extremely important laws and the legal precedent for future laws are decided and enforced.

Abraham Lincoln warned over a hundred years ago, referring to the Dred Scott decision…

“If government policy becomes irrevocably fixed by the decisions of the Supreme Court… the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”

What are your thoughts? What do you think about the function of the Supreme Court? What about the current Justices and the decisions they are making in favor of corporations? These are some of the questions I believe we should be asking ourselves. Why does it matter, what can we do? Well there’s not much with the way everything is set up now, but in the future the function or structure of the Supreme Court as well as everything related to government could be changed if it is what the majority of the people wanted and the elected officials wanted. After all, the United States is preaching Democracy all around the world and in many cases by use of military action. The Constitution is of course a centerpiece in America, but just as various religious sub-cultures disagree on the interpretations of ancient texts they deem holy and without flaw, a similar issue can occur when interpreting the constitution. For now, we can continue to educate ourselves, pay close attention to decisions that are made, run for political office, join a movement that closely matches our personal beliefs and ultimately get more involved in various forms of citizen activism.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 14,149 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 12,496 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 10,095 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 6,731 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Fire Within
Words by Sophie Scholl - Illustrations by Gavin Aung Than · 6,033 views today · Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) was a German activist who is famous for speaking out against the Nazi regime. Scholl was a member of a protest group called The White Rose, which...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 5,323 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
The London Anarchist Group Squatting Mansions to Fight Homelessness
6 min · 5,285 views today · London squatting activists ANAL (Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians) are squatting empty multi-million pound buildings and opening them up to the homeless.
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 5,158 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 4,358 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 3,312 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Voices of Standing Rock
49 min · 3,236 views today · Short stories told by water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Part 1 - Introduction: Since mid-August 2016, thousands have set up camp near the Standing Rock Sioux...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,903 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Redneck Revolt Presents: A Message to the Patriot Movement
6 min · 2,748 views today · Over the past few weeks, Redneck Revolt has been communicating with a former member of a III% Patriot Militia based out of Ohio. Peter made contact with our organization after...
To Change Everything, Start Everywhere
8 min · 1,837 views today · To Change Everything, Start Everywhere! The case for complete self-determination—a guide for the furious, the curious, and the pure of heart. To Change Everything: An...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 1,834 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
The Lessons of Standing Rock
Michael Emero · 1,692 views today · In mid-November of 2016, I was a Water Protector at Standing Rock. At first my goal was to play investigative journalist; documenting then writing about every detail for my...
From Sanctuary City to Liberated City
Frank Lara · 1,386 views today · In just one week, with several strokes of a pen, Trump unleashed upon the working class in the U.S. an attack not seen in decades. From his attack on the flawed Affordable Care...
Transition From Caterpillar to Butterfly as Analogy for Social Change
4 min · 1,224 views today · An exceprt from Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview in which Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about the fractal nature of reality and compares the current global awakening and the...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,193 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Charles Eisenstein: The Two Great Stories That Give Meaning to Our Lives
6 min · 1,041 views today · What matters in life? Who are we? Every culture has answers to these questions. And the way we answer them has profound effects on the health of people and planet. This is a...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
What Is the Supreme Court?