Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three Co-Equal Branches

When I was in high school civics class I learned that we have three co-equal branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. If you have read many of the posts in this forum you might have detected that I get frustrated with some of the actions courts have taken.

Even if you share that point of view with me, I don't think we should blame the courts exclusively. Jefferson feared that the courts would tend to gradually take more and more power. But the Constitution did not give final authority to the courts. Even if the Supreme Court overturns a law, Congress can also specify that certain areas are not subject to the Court's power.

But a recent (off-topic) example is equally frustrating. In my opinion, the campaign finance reform bill that was passed not so long ago is not Constitutional. You may disagree, but let's assume that I am correct for the moment. The first step was for Congress. They could have recognized the problem and not passed the law in the first place, or modified it so it would not conflict. The second step was the President, who (I think) was not in favor of the bill. He could have vetoed it, but decided to leave it to the courts to decide the issue. It seems to me that was "passing the buck." It's not just up to the Supreme Court. Congress, the President, and all nine Supreme Court justices are sworn to uphold the Constitution. If Congress or the President have doubts about Constitutionality, they have a responsibility to act.

If one looks at all the 5/4 decision passed down by the Supreme Court it is clear how fragile some of these decisions have been. It would only take a change of one Justice for the balance to swing, and gradually the legal balance would start to swing the other way. If the three branches were laying the proper foundation, I believe it would create more stability.

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