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Teachable Moment

the Teachable Moment

What are the responsibilities of the Supreme Court?

The best-known power of the Supreme Court is the ability to keep the other two branches of government, the Legislative (Congress) and the Executive (President) from doing anything in violation of the Constitution. This power is not specified within the text of the Constitution itself, but was established in 1803. Since Article VI of the Constitution establishes the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land, the Supreme Court decides which acts of Congress are contrary to the Constitution and which state laws are in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has the final say over which rights are protected by the Constitution and which Constitutional rights are violated.

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort for anyone seeking justice. It is designed to ensure that each branch of government recognizes the limits of its own power. It is designed to protect individual civil rights and liberties by striking down laws that violate the Constitution. It is designed to ensure that majorities cannot pass laws that harm minorities. (Allowing minorities to pass laws that harm majorities should also not be allowed.) It is designed to guarantee that the changing views of a majority do not undermine fundamental American values, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and due process of law. (Allowing minority views to undermine fundamental American values should also not be allowed.) Each decision of the Supreme Court has an important impact on the daily life of every citizen in the United States. Although the Constitution established the Supreme Court, it permits Congress to decide how to organize it. That is why Congress should now limit the terms of the Supreme Court justices.

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