The Supreme Court’s Role in Interpreting the Constitution

Posted November 29th, 2012 by admin and filed in Uncategorized

The role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution is defined within the confines of the Constitution itself. When the Supreme Court applies the Constitution, it defines and limits the powers of the government. But what inhibits the Supreme Court from supreme rule itself? The other two branches, the legislative and the executive, would simply not allow it.

The Supreme Court justices’ job is not to express their own views about what the law should be but to allow the Constitution itself to direct the law and their decisions regarding it. However, this being said, the Constitution is short and somewhat vague on many issues. The challenge for the Supreme Court is to still use it justly to decide a wide variety of cases.

A theory of Constitution interpretation is essential to the interpretation of Constitutional law. This is necessary because the Constitution itself does not provide a guide for its own interpretation.

A Constitutional theory known as originalism or interpretivism describes the Constitution as having a “changeless nature and meaning.” This theory depends on the original intent of the framers of the Constitution to determine its meaning. The originalists must stick to the original meaning of the text otherwise they consider it a judicial usurpation.

However, non-originalist scholars and judges argue with the concept of originalism. They question, “Who were the drafters whose intent we should focus on?” Because the Constitution was drafted by a number delegates from different states with different view points then ratified, whose intentions do define America’s Constitutional law? And the debate continues.

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