Event Detail

Print print

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Courts, Judges and Politics

THE EVOLUTION OF JUDICIAL POWER IN THE UNITED STATES FROM MARBURY v. MADISON IN 1804 TO THE NIXON TAPES CASE IN 1974, AND BEYOND 4pm in FDR In advocating ratification of the Constitution, which he understood would give the judiciary the independence and power to invalidate acts of Congress and issue orders to the President, Alexander Hamilton argued that the judicial branch would be "the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution." Initially, the Supreme Court did not often exercise its authority to overturn decisions of the Congress or the President. However, eventually unelected federal judges began to interpret the Constitution in a way that removed from the political process important and divisive issue such as slavery, child labor, segregated schools, capital punishment, abortion, and same-sex marriage. The exercise of this power has had profound political effects, including provoking the Civil War, prompting the realignment of political parties, providing major issues for Presidential elections, and causing the appointments of Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges to become partisan political battles. At times judicial decisions have fundamentally affected the political process itself, as when the Supreme Court decided the outcome the Presidential election in 2000 in Bush v. Gore, and held in 2010, in Citizens United, that corporations and labor unions have a constitutional right to spend unlimited amounts of money in connection with political campaigns. Whether these controversial decisions constituted unwarranted judicial activism or, rather, gave integrity to the assurance of the Bill of Rights that there are certain liberties that the majority cannot remove from minorities, they were made by men and women with their own personal preferences and political beliefs.

  • Location:
  • Date:
    Thursday, February 27, 2014
  • Time:
    4:00 PM

Contact Email

< Return to Events Calendar

Search Events

Enter keyword phrase, location, speaker, or event sponsor.

Search Events

View by Event Type

View by Event Type

Sort by Date

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
3 4 5 6 7 8
10 11 12 13 14 15
17 18 19 20 21 22
24 25 26 27 28

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page