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Question: The Founders wanted the courts to be independent bodies.  In addition to making decisions about life and death, whether to award settlements in civil cases, and whether to punish individuals and the severity of that punishment, the courts also make decisions affecting the lives of everyone. The courts have effectively legalized abortion, sanctioned the death penalty, integrated schools, decided whether a city’s districts for city council are constitutional, and determined how evidence may be admitted into court. Countless other issues have been decided by courts.  Many judges are appointed for life and are thus free to make difficult decisions that might not be made by legislators. Do you think the courts and judges have too much power as compared to the wishes and expectations of our Founders?

Classmate reply 1

The Founders wanted the courts to be independent bodies, but it is difficult for them to be independent in our society. The United States is always in need of having the Constitution defined and interpreted. The courts provide these interpretations. In my opinion, I do not think that they had too much power. I think that the power they have is needed to keep order and balance to our country and that they help to protect the rights of American citizens. Unfortunately, many citizens feel that the Supreme Court has too much power. Esparros (2020) quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying “If the policy of the Government upon the vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by the decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers” (para. 12). I think that the main issue with the courts is that they have become too politically driven. Politics should be taken out of the judicial branch and should focus more on the cases and how they align with the rights of the people. The president and the Senate have been selecting justices based more on political party alignment rather than how neutral they can remain. Nuebauer & Meinhold (2016) said “Presidents, therefore, value vacant judgeships, because they are opportunities to reward the party faithful, pursue political objectives, and appear presidential in the process” (p. 153). The issue is that these newly selected justices are sided more along political party lines and not remaining biased and completely neutral to the cases that they here. I think that the court needs to find a balance to remain neutral to the people and remain loyal to their party. When too many justices are aligned with one political party they tend to lean toward that side. I do feel that the Supreme Court can and often does remain neutral to the cases that they hear, but the other politicians need to stay out of the process. 


Esparros , K. (2020, September 25). Does the Supreme Court have too much power? Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/politics/national-politics/does-the-supreme-court-have-too-much-power/289-43d73108-e0a3-41b1-8df2-878b674c3f7b.

Neubauer, D. W., & Meinhold, S. S. (2016). Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States (7th Edition). Cengage Limited. https://ccis.vitalsource.com/books/9780357231524

Classmate reply 2

In my opinion, I do not think that the judges have too much power. By definition, legislators are obligated to write and pass laws. Just like any other decision making body of people, someone has to then enforce and apply the laws amongst society. I have always appreciated that some judgeships are for life because having the same person dealing with the same issues and people in a certain district or area shows that being a judge is something so serious that swapping out all the time is not conducive to society. Some of us like stability and seeing the same people in power when it comes to things like getting criminals off of the street. Again, that is my opinion. Also, courts are so important because they serve as a middle man to our constitution and Judges are here to make sure that in representation of a lawyer, proper law is applied and making sure that the constitution is being carried out as the founding fathers wished. Having appellate courts gives the people the chance to take decisions higher when you come across a judge who has not done that properly. They system works and I think the power is delegated properly.

Question: One of the assertions in chapter 7 of your text is that courts can actually bring about social change.  The example your text provides is the integration of schools and the various social developments that resulted.  Another example is the courts’ attention to criminal due process rights in the 1960’s and the resulting social change. Can you think of other social changes that have actually been caused by the courts within the last few years or which may be caused by the courts in the near future?

Classmate Reply 1

Social change is when society changes overtime. Some, like political scientist and law professor Gerald Rosenberg (Neubauer & Meinhold p195), do not think that social change happens because of the courts. He believed that the courts did not lead in any social changes but they tend to follow. I think that the community has a lot to do with social changes because people tend to stand up for what they believe in. People will riot or talk to others to educate them about what their beliefs are. I believe these are the first steps before courts tend to get involved. People have to make a big wave so that others notice especially higher parties. After people educate others, maybe protest, and elect officials that have the same beliefs, they can take things to the courts to try and make social change. One thing that I believe courts did for social change was same sex marriage. Of course, people stood up for their right to marry whoever they wish to, but courts showing acceptance and passing law, I believe has helped society become more open to same sex marriage. It helps shed more light on the topic and educate people to know that love is love. If courts do not get involved in things, like same sex marriage, then it would be more unlikely that things will change. When people see others accepting same sex marriage then they tend to jump on with them, even if they do not fully agree with the idea.  


Baker, Peter. Pace of Social Change Accelerating. Available from: New York Times. May 11, 2012. Same-Sex Marriage Support Shows Pace of Social Change Accelerating – The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

Neubauer, David, W. and Stephen S. Meinhold. Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States. Available from: Columbia College, (7th Edition). Cengage Limited, 2016. 

Classmate reply 2

One social change is a woman’s right to choose. In the landmark case of Roe v Wade the right for a woman to have an abortion was decided by the courts. Now, 48 years later, we are facing another social change revolving around this same subject. The Texas abortion ban has created a social change where woman are now in danger of losing their rights over their own bodies. A woman’s body is her own and lawmaker’s should not be able to have any laws that state what a person can or cannot do with their body. The Texas abortion ban is a direct violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and the Supreme Court has a duty to defend the rights of the people that they serve. Neubauer & Meinhold (2016) said “In contemporary America, litigation is part of a group’s policy strategy and its efforts to maintain its membership and is frequently related to its financial resources. In the view of many groups, it is better to have litigated and lost than never to have litigated at all. Indeed, interest groups are increasingly litigating in state courts as well as before federal judges. Thus, powerful groups go to court to enforce gains won politically in other branches of government” (p. 196). Currently there are several interest groups battling the abortion ban in the courts on behalf of individual’s rights because an individual bringing a case to court would most likely not be heard. These interest groups are able to fight on behalf of the individuals and are beneficial to the people and helping hold the Supreme Court accountable in defending the rights of the American people. The decision of this case in the Supreme Court has the chance of making a monumental change to our society and for the rights of women in our society. 


Neubauer, D. W., & Meinhold, S. S. (2016). Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States (7th Edition). Cengage Limited. https://ccis.vitalsource.com/books/9780357231524