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Essay/Term paper: Pros and cons of judicial review

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Political Science

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Pros and Cons of Judicial Review


Adam Kimball
Pol. 1110
Instr. Madigan
12/10/96

Judicial Review is the power given to Supreme court justices in which a
judge has the power to reason whether a law is unconstitutional or not. Chief
Justice John Marshall initiated the Supreme Court's right to translate the
Constitution in 1803 following the case of Marbury Vs. Madison, in which he
declared the Supreme Court as the sole interpreters of Constitutional law. This
is one of the sole purposes of the Supreme Court of the United States. Many
Historical thinkers would find some difficulty in imagining a government set up
to limit the power of itself,but others would argue that this form of government
best works for the people, and not against them. The treatment of the
Constitution by the Supreme Court as a "living" document that is able to be
translated differently over time for the good of the people has as many skeptics
as it does supporters. But, if we do not allow the Supreme Court to translate
the Constitution who then, should the people chose to do such an important job.
If we were to look back at the ideas and thoughts of some of the
greatest political thinkers of our time, we would find that individuals such as
Plato, Niccolo Machiavelli, and John Locke, would share extremely different
views as to whether or not Judicial review, and the Supreme Court as a whole,
would be successful in their ideal government situations.
One of the earliest political philosophers Plato, would find our
present day governmental setup of the Supreme Court to be the ideal group to
deal with the United States' situation. Plato felt that government should be run
by enlightened philosopher kings, that would rule for the good of the people,
and not themselves. We today see the Supreme Court as a collection of the most
"enlightened" thinkers of our day. They are chosen to make moral decisions about
laws made by others in our society, and decide whether or not the laws we make
are in the best interest of our nation as a whole. Plato knew that within any
political State their would be corruption, to stop the corruption Plato felt
that the philosopher kings would best rule because they would not indulge
themselves in a corrupt society. They only believed in the truth, and justice
that government is supposed to protect its people with.
Although Plato would not totally agree with the Democratic structure of
our government, I believe that he would chose for our society, a state that is
ruled by a similar group to that of our Supreme Court because, the members of
the Supreme Court are chosen because of their ability to make sensible, moral
decisions about issues that may contradict our Constitution.
Niccolo Machiavelli on the other hand, would find a great many problems
with giving the Power to translate Constitutional law to anyone other than the
President of the United States. Machiavelli would also totally disagree with the
idea of having anyone make decisions about laws because they are morally
incorrect. Machiavelli felt that virtue and idealism was one of the biggest
enemies of the State. He felt that a government should be run with the sole
intention of forcing the people to be obedient, and for the individual virtues
of the people to be a non-factor in any political decisions made by the ruler of
the state. He would find that a group of individuals elected to protect the
virtue of citizens, and make sure that laws were morally correct, would be a
totally absurd action that would only cause chaos, and mayhem because it is
impossible to make a government that is completely virtuous. Machiavelli found
the most successful government to be one that ruled on the basis of "realism"
not "idealism". Realistically, no government could ever successfully develop
under an ideal that would allow a group of otherwise powerless individuals to
decide whether or not the laws that exist in government are morally correct
under the guidance of a Constitution that may be considered to be "Idealistic"
rather than "realistic".
A more modern philosopher such as John Locke, would find the Supreme
Court and its power of Judicial Review to be one of the most important
characteristics of the United States' setup of Democracy. Locke would truly
enjoy how successful the beauties of the limiting powers of each branch of our
government. Locke would find that our policy of "Checks and Balances" to be one
of the greatest ways of keeping the government working for the people. Locke
believed in each individual's right to "self Preservation". Meaning that we all
equally have the right to uphold the laws of nature. Locke believed that all
people should be treated as equals, and to not treat each other equally would
interfere on an individual's right to "self Preservation". Much like Locke, The
Supreme Court exists to interpret whether or not a law is going to interfere
with our right to "self preservation". Locke felt that for a government to be
successful in preserving the rights of the individual citizen, it must
concentrate on protecting the "Life and Liberty" of each citizen. The
Constitution of the United States is the ideal document in Locke's mind. And,
the Supreme Court's protection of the people of the United States, and its
Constitution is also a necessity in running a truly virtuous, and successful
government that concentrates on the rights of the individual, rather than the
people as a whole.
Many philosophers shared different beliefs on how a government could be
most successful. Some believed that a government would be best run by the people.
Others thought that one sole dictator or King could best run a successful
government. Either way, I don't believe that anyone can contest the success of
the United States' democratic setup, and its beliefs in protecting the rights of
the individual. It was the beliefs of our forefathers to preserve the rights of
man, and that "All men are created equal". These beliefs have molded one of the
most successful political states in modern History.

 

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