Constraints On Court Policy

1571 Words 6 Pages
The courts are an essential piece of the American political system created by the Framers of the Constitution, despite the fact that the Framers originally considered the judicial branch to be the “least dangerous branch” of government because it lacked the power “of the sword and of the purse” (Hamilton 1778). However, the Supreme Court has proved itself to be a powerful political actor with the capability to make a profound impact on policy when conditions are ripe for it to do so. Nearly all of the major social and political issues of the modern era have found their way into the Court, and the justices have had the ability to make both constitutional and statutory rulings that have impacted policy framework of policy within the United States. …show more content…
The first major constraint on court action is its responsive nature; unlike the legislative or executive branches the courts cannot initiate policy but must wait for cases to be brought to them. Thus, one of the primary conditions for the Court’s ability to craft policy is the presence of active interest groups that seek to use the courts to create policy on an issue. The second major constraint on Court action is structural in nature; the Court has few avenues through which it can directly implement its rulings on a national level. Thus a secondary condition for the creation of successful policy is the presence of an enforcing body at the local level (including the district courts) or alternately, enough public pressure to force governing bodies to comply with Court rulings. Thus, there are at least two conditions that are necessary for the courts to successfully create policy concerning a given policy area; if these two conditions are not met, then the courts are generally unable to successfully create …show more content…
Thus, through the action of interest groups, the Court was able to enter into the process of shaping policy on this issue, and lay the groundwork for the implementation of such policies. Several subsequent and important decisions such as Cooper v. Aaron (1958) further helped to shape policy in the direction of desegregation. However, the advocacy of interest groups alone was necessary, but not sufficient for the successful creation of the Civil Rights policy of the 1950s; it was also necessary that the second condition be met in order for the policy to prove

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