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Chapter Summary9 - Although its members have life tenures...

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Chapter Nine: The Judiciary Study Chapter Summary Contrary to general notions of balance between the branches of government, the judiciary is arguably the weakest of the three. The Supreme Court possesses few administrative controls over the lower courts. The court system is decentralized and is staffed at every level by independent, life-tenured judges. Additionally, the Court cannot distribute its caseload to lower courts or determine which cases will be appealed to its jurisdiction. Although the threat of reversal on appeal does act as a check on rogue judges, the Supreme Court can hear only about one hundred such appeals per year, limiting its effectiveness. In addition, although the Court generally tries to guide lower courts' procedures and decisions, the Court's guiding decisions are themselves often vague or difficult to reconcile with past rulings.
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Unformatted text preview: Although its members have life tenures and do not face the threat of reelection, the courts are beholden to citizens through the elected branches. In addition to controlling the nomination, jurisdiction, and size of the judiciary, the elected branches can counter Supreme Court decisions with laws or even constitutional amendments. Finally, the Court relies heavily on other branches to help define its agenda and enforce its decisions. However, when power in these other branches is divided across parties (as has increasingly been the case in recent decades), this division can produce severe partisan conflict over the judiciary's agenda and membership. These conflicts have been particularly evident in the recent strategic wrangling between the president and the opposing Senate majority over a variety of nominees....
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