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The Second Challenge: Imperial Judiciary Essay

1338 words - 5 pages

People have always been concerned about our judicial system making massive decisions in an undemocratic manner and while there are parts of our nation’s history (Jost). There have been decisions that were dreadful for our nation, Dred Scott v. Sandford; but there are decisions that everyone can agree with in retrospect, Brown v. Board of Education. Also, there are decisions that still divide us as a nation, Bush v. Gore and Roe V. Wade. There are a lot of issues that come from our current judicial system; however, I understand that the problems that come from it are not going to come from any quick fix, and we may have to live with some of them. Looking at the history of the judicial branch of the United States Government, I believe it needs to be limited in its judicial review power, but have certain exceptions where necessary in some cases.

In William Hudson’s book, American Democracy in Peril, he writes about different “challenges” that play a vital role in shaping the future of the United States. One is the problem of the “imperial judiciary”. Hudson defines its as that the justice system in the United States has become so powerful that it is answering and deciding upon important policy questions, questions that probably should be answered by our democratic legislatures. Instead of having debates in which everyone’s voices are heard and are considered in final decision-making process, a democratic-like process; we have a single judge or a small group of judges making decisions that effect millions of citizens, an “undemocratic” process. Hudson personally believes the current state of judicialized politics is harming policy decisions in Americans. According to him, the judicial branch is the “least democratic branch”, and makes it so policy debates are stifled and the people’s voice are not truly heard.

In addition, Hudson cites influential court cases that have shaped American policy. He uses them to prove the point that “liberal” and “conservative” courts have always used some type of judicial review to make decisions that turn into common law. He writes about how judicial philosophies like “judicial restraint” and “judicial activism” still contains the same aspect of interpreting the U.S. Constitution and applying to today’s world. Since both of these philosophies involve some type of interpretation, it will more often than not, cause some type of bias in the final ruling. Although, Hudson makes very good points about the judicialization of politics being harmful and somewhat anti-democratic, I cannot truly agree with him. Democracy is not perfect, and I think we all know that, so when people argue that the court system is fundamentally broken because it is not democratic, maybe it is a good thing it is not as democratic as some would like.

Think about two of the biggest civil rights cases in the history of the United States, Dred Scott v. Sandford and Brown v. Board of Education. If we tried to apply democratic principles to...

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