Book Review: Courting Disaster

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Courting Disaster

This response reviews the book Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court is usurping the Power of Congress and the People. In the book, the concept of the Supreme Court in the United States of America is fully explained, giving particular attention to the successes and the failures of the Supreme Court. The others postulate that the growing power of the U.S. Supreme Court, whose initial function was to review laws and ensure their legality, is using its position to actually form and modulate legal rights according to their personal politics. Since the Supreme Court has ultimate authority in terms both of constitutionality and over the types of actions the other two branches can perform without fear of ramification from the Judicial Branch. More and more, the Supreme Court has been found to have usurped its responsibilities and to have tried to implement and enforce laws which are the parameters of the Legislative and Executive Branches respectively.

Review:

Pat Robertson (2004) wrote his book Courting Disaster How the Supreme Court is usurping the Power of Congress and the People for the explicit purpose of bringing up the issue of Judicial powers and the evidence he sees that this branch of the government is taking over powers which were constitutionally given to either the Legislative or Executive Branch. The author believes that slowly but surely, the United States Supreme Court has forfeited their original purpose and rather than simply decided upon the legality or validity of legislation, are actually becoming a politically biased unit who use the court system to determine morality, values, customs, and the perspective of the American people. First he disseminates the differences between the original constitutional powers granted to the Supreme Court, how they have expanded their powers, and how they have become usurpers as the subtitle of the book accuses. More frighteningly, unlike Congress and the President, the Supreme Court's authority is seldom checked and those who are in positions of power, namely the justices, do not have the same penalties as the other government representatives which further differentiate the power between branches.

The Supreme Court, unlike Congress or the Executive Branch, is comprised of members who, once appointed, hold their positions for life (Appel 2009). According to the actual terminology, the justices are to serve only until the point where their judgment might be impeded. They can be impeached but this has never happened in the history of the United States. Consequently, when a person becomes a Supreme Court Justice, he or she will more than likely keep that job for the rest of their life, regardless of a change of regime or national attitude.

According to Robertson, the major evidence which supports his thesis has to do with whether or not the justices are actually doing what it is they were appointed to do. Namely, the Supreme Court justices are tasked with reading the constitution and interpreting it according to what the document actually says. However, more and more the justices are making decisions based upon what they believe the constitution should say or what they believe the writers meant to say rather than on what is actually stated in this all-important document. He states, "Through systematic reinterpretation and misreading of the Constitution, by disregarding the will of the people in dozens of politically charged cases, and by attempting to enshrine their own liberal notions of 'social justice' through tortured readings of the law, justices have substantially changed the form and substance of our American democracy" (Robertson 2004,-page 4). In many recent cases where the issues presented were not even in existence when the Supreme Court was established, i.e. abortion, gay rights, the death penalty debate, are being examined and criterion within the Constitution used to determine the legality of those issues. Technically speaking, since the Constitution does not… [END OF PREVIEW]

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