The Supreme Court: Gavel or Hammer?

The Supreme Court gets it’s gavel from Article III of the Constitution, which establishes it and authorizes Congress to create the lower federal court system.  The Supreme Court’s job is to determine the constitutionality of laws and presidential actions, theoretically preventing excesses from the other two branches.  Lower Federal courts can make constitutional rulings too but they’re appealable to the Supreme Court.   Alexander Hamilton considered the Supreme Court to be the “least dangerous” branch of government because it lacked executive or legislative powers, but that hasn’t proven true.  Using Judicial Review it can overturn the actions of our elected officials.  An “activist” court can effectively legislate. That’s awesome power for a panel of judges who are appointed for life by the president and out of the reach of the voting booth, and it’s a powerful reason for maintaining presidential term limits.  It’s naive to think that judges are totally impartial and nonpartisan.  A judge appointed by the president will probably have similar opinions on how things should be in the USA.  We often hear about the “conservative/liberal” balance in the court.  Typically conservatives use the gavel to uphold the Constitution while liberals use it as a hammer to chip away at the Bill of Rights. Have some recent court rulings been about the Constitution or about a political agenda?  If they have it’s time to consider a 12 to 18 year term limit for Supreme Court justices along with a mandatory retirement age.

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