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Q: Government Issues ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Government Issues
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: fc225-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 08 Dec 2003 17:27 PST
Expires: 07 Jan 2004 17:27 PST
Question ID: 285099
How can Congress limit the authority of the supreme court?
Subject: Re: Government Issues
Answered By: mvguy-ga on 09 Dec 2003 18:30 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The constitutional means by which Congress can limit the Supreme Court
can be found in Article III of the U.S. Constitution.  I shall list
the relevant parts below:

  Section 1. The judicial power of the United States,
  shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such
  inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time
  ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme
  and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during
  good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive
  for their services, a compensation, which shall not
  be diminished during their continuance in office.

  Section 2. ... In all cases affecting ambassadors, 
  other public ministers and consuls, and those in 
  which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall
  have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases
  before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have
  appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact,
  with such exceptions, and under such regulations
  as the Congress shall make. ...

You can find the entire article here:

Article III

The main constitutional means, then, by which the Congress can limit
the authority of the Supreme Court then, is to make "exceptions" and
"regulations" of the court's appellate jurisdiction.

To date, this has not been done to any significant degree. However,
such use of Congressional power has been proposed, particularly by
some conservative activists. Here are four examples:

Congress members introduce bills designed to limit courts' authority
Proposals would limit court decisions in certain First Amendment cases
involving religious freedom.

Congress Can Overturn Roe v Wade Anytime It Wants
The writer says that the reason Congress doesn't do what the title
says is because it doesn't have the political will, not because it
doesn't have the authority.

How Congress Can Rein in the Courts
An article by Edwin Meese III.

Can Congress "Find" That the Supreme Court Was Wrong About Evidence?
The implications of an anti-abortion bill.

In addition to these constitutional means of limiting the high court's
power, there are other steps Congress could take:
-- It could remove wrongly-deciding judges for lack of good behavior.
-- It could seek to amend the Constitution.
-- The Senate can vote to confirm or deny court appointments.
-- The Congress could expand the size of the court so that new
justices could be appointed to overrule the existing ones. Such a
court "packing" was proposed during the FDR administration but never

I hope you find this answer helpful.



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