This week I would like to discuss and analyze the power that the Supreme Court has. And if they do have too much, is there a need for more checks by the other branches of government. The Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the Constitution and is the final upholder of justice in our political process. Their decisions impact many Americans’ lives and so sometimes their decisions are highly publicized and under scrutiny. Cases on popular issues like gay rights, marriage, legalization of marijuana, and abortion attract attention from all over. The final decision for these issues lay in the hands of a few people, but what if they are wrong. Alexander Hamilton talked about the Judicial branch as being the least dangerous branch, because it was not in charge of money or the military, but what if they were given too much power because of this? Perhaps this harmless branch has given itself too much power throughout the years. So then what happens when a decision that is made by the Supreme Court is not only unjust, but a violation of rights?
There is always the argument that because of lifetime appointments and other safeguards, the Justices will not be influenced by outside forces and will therefore make the right and just decision. But, what if these safeguards that have been put in place are not enough and the Court makes a decision that is fundamentally wrong that the president and the majority of the country disagree with? Nothing can change the decision, the Supreme Court is the final authority over our government and so perhaps there should be more checks on them and maybe the Judicial branch overall.
Now, I write this blog with a couple cases in mind, all of which deal with discrimination in different forms. First, there is the Board of Trustees of the Union of Alabama vs. Garret where the court decided that state employees cannot sue the State for discrimination of people with disabilities under the ADA. Second, is Kimel vs. Florida Board of Regents where they decided that you could not sue the state for discrimination of age? There are laws and Acts that are in place to prevent discrimination and protect the rights of the disabled and elderly, however in both of these cases the courts did not protect these rights. Which gives the state’s power to violate individual’s rights by discriminating against people with disabilities, and there is nothing they (state employees) can do about it.
These two court decisions are scary examples of how the Supreme Court has maybe too much power. Now these two rulings were made in favor of sovereign immunity of states, so that they cannot be sued by individuals. However, in Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, which dealt with the Family Medical Leave Act and sex discrimination, they ruled that individuals were allowed to sue. Giving sex discrimination higher priority over other discrimination cases.
These three cases are an example of how the Supreme Court has used its power to grant protection to only certain people. When discrimination is a serious problem in our country and giving states immunity to it is a violation of the rights of people with disabilities.