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Flashcards in The Supreme Court Deck (51)
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What are the 4 main powers of the Supreme Court?

To interpret the Constitution; to conduct judicial reviews; to ensure the laws are faithfully applied; to rule on cases involving the Constitution.


Who was a 'strict constructionist'. What does this mean? What was the man in favour of?

Thomas Jefferson; means you interpret the Constitution literally. He was in favour of state sovereignty, was a Southerner, and liked strong state courts.


Who was a 'loose constructionist'. What does this mean? What was the main in favour of?

John Adams; means you interpret the Constitution loosely, reading between the lines; a federalist and a Northerner, liked a strong federal court.


When was Judicial Review established?

Give an example of a judiciary holding other branches to its own interpretation of the Constitution.

1803, via 'Marbury v Madison'.

In 'Bush v Gore' (2000), the Supreme Court overturned the judgement of the Florida Supreme Court to have a recount, making Bush the President.


What can differences in interpretation of the same part of the Constitution over time be equivalent to? Give an example.

How does this tie into the Warren Court + JA?

Can be equivalent to legislation.

'Brown v Board of Education' (1954) ended segregation within schools, creating a precedent for all states. This was ruling was done by the Warren Court, which was said to be a court of judicial activism in the 50s+60s in that they promoted desirable social ends.


What is followed under judicial restraint? Can precedent be changed?

What does Article 3 Section 1 say about judges, making who's nomination controversial?

The court follows precedent and shows restraint. Precedent can be changed, but generally over a long period of time.

They "shall hold their offices during good behaviour" - made Kavanaugh's nomination controversial.


Why do judges have life terms? (hint - impartiality expectation).

What sort of a constructionist is Trump? What does this mean for state power?

They're expected to be impartial - so life terms mean that judges don't have to worry about how their decisions may anger parties/voters.

Strict - theoretically. if interpretation for the federal level is more limited, then individual states will have more power.


Why does the President see a Supreme Court appointment as the most important politically?

Which 3 pools of recruitment may the President use?

The judge will almost certainly outlive him, e.g. in 2017 Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy was still on the court nearly 30yrs after Reagan left office.

Political advisers (e.g. senior White House aides), esp. if they're Democrat groups like the American Bar Association, but most likely = the federal Court of Appeals.


Who was not recruited from the Federal Court of Appeals in the Roberts Court? Who did Reagan nominate from a state court?

Elena Kagan; Sandra Day O' Connor from the Arizona State Court of Appeals.


Which committee rates a judge? What rating are they expected to get? When was the last time this didn't happen?

The ABA standing committee on the Federal Judiciary. Nominees are expected to get a 'Well Qualified' rating. Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H. W. Bush in 1991, got a 'qualified' rating by the majority of the committee but a 'not qualified' by a minority.


Who has received 'well qualified' from the ABA standing committee? Who does the nominee then appear in front of? Who withdrew after the process went badly?

Neil Gorsuch in 2017; the Senate Judiciary Committee; Bush nominee Harriet Miers withdrew in 2005 after conservative Republican senators were not convinced about her ideology. This was unprecedented in that they went against the President's same party.


Give an example of politicisation by the Senate in terms of supporting Senators? Opposition senators? (2). The media?

Senate support = In 2006 nominee Samuel Alito was thrown soft questions by Republicans (who had a majority in the Senate).

Senate opposition = In 1991 they were more interested in the scandal and gossip surrounding Clarence Thomas; in 2016, Merrick Garland (Obama's nominee) was refused to be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate - unprecedented.


How have the media revealed increased politicisation of the Supreme Court appointment process?

Which Act set up the lower courts in conjunction with the Supreme Court? How many district courts are there? Courts of Appeal? (i.e. circuit courts).

In 1991, they were more interested in competing to get the most sensational allegations about Clarence Thomas.

1789 Judiciary Act; 94; 12.


Where can a case rarely begin?

Give 4 criteria for a case being brought to a federal district court.

How many justices on the SC?

The Supreme Court.

Cases where the law at issue is a federal law; cases involving treaties; cases involving the US Constitution; when 2 states are trying to sue the other.



Do Appeals Courts have original jurisdiction? What about the district courts?

Limited original jurisdiction over some cases.

No; yes, in most cases.


When was 'United States v Virginia'? Why did the woman sue? What was the eventual 'remedy'?

1996; the woman challenged the Viriginia Military Institute's all-male admissions policy. She appealed to the Appeals Court, which ruled agaisnt VMI.

The remedy the district court found was a parallel programme set up for women.


Why was the solution the district court found in the VMI case unsatisfactory? What did the Supreme Court eventually rule?

The women's parallel programme got less funding. The question for the Supreme Court was whether the gender-based admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause. It did - so the admissions policy was ruled unconstitutional.


When was 'Plessy v Ferguson'? Why (and under what law) was Plessy arrested?

1896; Homer Plessy, a black man, refused to sit in a car for black people, which was against the a Louisiana state law (1890) that segregated them.


What did Plessy argue? What were the consequences?

Plessy argued this was unconstitutional, and against the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. But, the Court said that this only applied to civil rights, not social rights.

This ensured the survival of the Jim Crow Laws - it wouldn't be until 'Brown v Board of Education' (1954) that things would change.


Why were Richard and Mildred Loving arrested (and under which state law)? Who took their case to the Supreme Court?

What did the ACLU argue?

Because under Virginia state law, interracial marriage was illegal. The ACLU agreed to take their case.

The ACLU argued in 1967 that the Virginia law was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, which forbids the states to restrict the basic rights of citizens.


What did the Supreme Court rule for 'Loving v Virginia' (1967)?

They voted unanimously that it violated the 14th amendment, resulting in laws against interracial marriage being struck down in 16 U.S. States, including Virginia.


What is judicial review? As of December 2018, how many federal laws had been ruled unconstitutional by the SC?

The power of the SC to declare Acts of Congress, actions of the President or Acts or Acts/actions of state govs unconstitutional.



What does 'recuse' mean? What do judges have to try to be?

When a judge pulls themselves out of a case because they're far too opinionated to make a decision, though they try to be impartial.


Name the 9 justices of the Roberts Court (2005-present).

John Roberts (Chief Justice); Clarence Thomas (Associate Justice - same for the others); Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Stephen G. Breyer; Samuel Alito; Sonia Sotomayor; Elena Kagan; Neil Gorsuch; Brett Kavanaugh.


What are the Bill of Rights? What two freedoms does the 1st amendment guarantee?

The first 10 amendments of the Constitution; freedom of religion + freedom of speech.


When was 'Frazier v Alexandre'? Who sued who? Why?

2006; Cameron Frazier sued his teacher, Cynthia Alexandre. Frazier had refused to say the pledge of allegiance in 2005, and was called "un-American" by Alexandre.


What was the outcome of 'Frazier v Alexandre'?

A federal district court in Florida ruled that a state law that had made reciting the Pledge of Allegiance violated the 1st amendment of the Constitution - thus, the practice of forcing all students to recite it will stop.


Who was the girl who get pregnant re. Roe V Wade (1973)? What did the Supreme Court declare?

Norma McCorvey;Supreme Court declared that the state gov of Texas's prohibition of abortion = unconstitutional, as the right to privacy extended to her right to have an abortion.


What was Roe v Wade an extreme example of? What did Nixon argue re. 'United States v Nixon (1974)?

Judicial activism. He argued that separation of powers meant that the Supreme Court could not interfere with the executive, and that he should not release tapes of meetings with those indicted in the scandal.


How did the Court respond to 'United States v Nixon'?(hint = the constitutional question that the case raised).

The case raised the constitutional question of whether the President's right to safeguard certain info was totally immune from judicial review. They ruled unanimously against Nixon.