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Chapter14-TheJudiciary - A.P Civics Notes Chapter 14"The...

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A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 14 “The Judiciary” I. Introduction 1. The United States Supreme Court has become such an important branch be it can declare acts of legislation unconstitutional (called judicial review ), thereby voiding them. i. In Britain, the Parliament is supreme, and no court can overturn laws. 2. Judicial review is no longer really controversial, but the two ways of doing it are: i. Using a strict-constructionist approach , a judge uses only what is written in the Constitution in judging if a law is right or not. ii. Using an activist approach , a judge relies on his own opinions and philosophies in addition to what is written in the Constitution. iii. An activist judge is not necessarily liberal and a strict- constructionist judge is not necessarily conservative; liberals can be strict-constructionists and vice versa. iv. 50 yrs ago, activists tended to be conservative and vice versa, but today, the opposite is true. II. The Development of Courts 1. The Founders probably wanted the Supreme Court to have some sort of judicial review, but they never expected the Court to grow as powerful as it is today. i. The rise of judicial activism occurred when judges questioned the traditional view of simply finding and applying existing law (instead of doing what the judge felt right) and acted on that. 2. In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Court was “least dangerous” to political rights and clearly stated that the Supreme Court was intended to decide the Constitutionality of a law, but that such a power would confine the legislature, not strengthen the courts. 3. The Court has been shaped by the major eras of the country (1787- 1865: establishing country’s legitimacy; 1865-1937: relationship b/t gov’t and econ.; 1937-present: personal liberty issues). 4. National law is supreme and can override state law, but this was not established until two cases, Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland   occurred.
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i. In 1803, William Marbury had been one of the midnight judges who had not received his judgeships, and when he filed suit for it, Chief Justice John Marshall feared that if he ordered James Madison to deliver the judgeship, he’d refuse, and there’d be a Constitutional crisis, so he said that the Judiciary Act of 1789 that had indirectly allowed Marbury to be able to get a judgeship was unconstitutional and was void; thus, he solved the problem AND strengthened the court’s power. ii. When the state of Maryland tried to tax the Bank of the United States , Marshall ruled (in 1819) that it could not do that, since the federal gov’t was above the state gov’t. 5. In 1816, the Supreme Court rejected the Virginia courts’ claims that it couldn’t review state decisions, saying that it indeed could do that because it was supreme above all.
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