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Are supreme court justices politicians in disguise?

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Are Supreme Court justices politicians in disguise? (60) The United States Supreme Court is argued to make both political and judicial decisions even though it is a judicial body. A Judicial Decision is a decision based on the law. Whether that law is right or wrong is of no concern to the judiciary because that is a political decision. A political decision is such that should the death penalty should be given for murder, whereas the judicial decision would have been whether the person was guilty of that crime. To some extent the inevitable answer is yes, the main reason being is judicial review. In the United Kingdom the powers of judicial review only extend to ultra vires, the power to say that the government has exceeded its powers given to it by law; what it cannot do is say the law is invalid. In the United States the Supreme Court can declare laws to be unconstitutional. This is because of the power as introduced by Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury Vs Madison. Therefore it can strike down laws made by congress and also executive actions if it so chooses. ...read more.


The Constitution does not mention contraception or privacy, but the Court declared that the other rights in the Constitution contained a "penumbra" of implied rights, and the general right to privacy was determined to be one of these rights. The statute prohibiting use of contraceptives was then voided as an infringement of the right of marital privacy Arguably the more activist a court, the more political it is, and as many liberal courts have been activist courts it can be said the more liberal a court is the more political it gets. A non-activist conservative court is arguably less likely to make political decisions since it does not believe in a living constitution and does not interpret as loosely as does a liberal court. Therefore whether or not a supreme court can be deemed political pretty much depends on the type of court that it is. Therefore with many arguments stating that the court at the moment may be considered conservative may mean it is less political. However sometimes a conservative court can be activist, such as the Supreme Court in the 1930s that struck down FDRs new deal legislation because they were pro-business. ...read more.


Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationists that were trying to physically block the Little Rock nine. Eisenhower attempted to de-escalate the situation and summoned the Governor to meet him. The President warned the governor not to interfere with the Supreme Court's ruling, but in the end had to enforce the supreme court ruling by sending federal troops to assist the little rock nine. In conclusion, the Supreme Court justices should be seen as politicians in disguise to a certain extent as the decisions they make usually have some political standing. However these decisions may also be circumstantial, such as the Bush V. Gore decision, so the political aspect of the court is part of the evolution of the Supreme Court and was not meant to be there. The extent to which a Supreme Court justice can be seen as a politician is defined by whether or not they are a loose constructionist or in an activist court which usually go hand in hand. This is because they do not just stick to the constitution, but they also interpret the constitution in the context of the modern era thus making a political decision. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachael Burden 13A ...read more.

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Response to the question

This student answers the question very well by splitting their essay into a section on why the Supreme Court is judicial, and a section on why it is political. This not only shows that the student has an excellent grasp ...

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Response to the question

This student answers the question very well by splitting their essay into a section on why the Supreme Court is judicial, and a section on why it is political. This not only shows that the student has an excellent grasp of the need to consider both sides of the argument, but it also shows they can organise their knowledge. They talk about the Supreme Court or closely related topics (such as the president nominating a judge) for the whole essay, which is good as it shows they have enough knowledge to answer the question and aren't struggling to find things to write.

Level of analysis

The evidence used in this essay is excellent. Any question on the judiciary should quote the names of court cases, as this shows you know specific examples to prove your point, as well as a general understanding. This student uses such examples well, such as "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka" (which is famous and important, showing they are aware of broad issues) as well as "Griswold v. Connecticut" (which is less famous, suggesting they can also specialise their knowledge when they need to select the most relevant bits). Students always need to make sure they are using enough knowledge, but explaining why that knowledge is significant as well: when the student says "This however is not necessarily a negative thing", it's good because it shows they are evaluating the consequences of the evidence. However, the entire fourth paragraph is just a list of details about events - it would be better to spend half of that paragraph talking about why Griswold vs. Connecticut was so important. The conclusion to this essay is excellent as it says "to a certain extent": this shows that the student is aware that more than one interpretation on the Supreme Court is valid, but that they have the knowledge to say which one is more valid than the other.

Quality of writing

The student makes excellent use of political terminology such as "security of tenure" and so on, which is good as it shows more specific knowledge than something general and non-political like "they stay in their posts for a long time". The spelling, grammar and so on are excellent, which makes the essay easier to read and the student appears confident in their writing. Also, the style the essay is written in is A Level standard, as the student doesn't use informal words or phrases, which is good because it is dealing with a serious historical topic.

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Reviewed by lordharvey 24/04/2012

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