What are the pros and cons of the Supreme Court's power of judicial review?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major pro regarding the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review is that it acts as a check on the elected branches of government.  Our Constitution set up a system of government with separation of powers and checks and balances.  The reason for this was that the Framers feared that a government with concentrated and unchecked power would be more likely to take away the rights of its citizens.  The power of judicial review is one of these checks and balances.  It helps, we can argue, prevent the elected branches of government from overstepping their bounds and taking away our rights.

There are at least two major cons.  First, we can say that the Supreme Court’s power may make us complacent.  It may make us think our rights are protected by the Court when in fact it is usually efforts on the part of the people (like the Civil Rights Movement) that protect our rights.  Second, we can say that the power of judicial review reduces our democratic control over our government.  If, for example, we want to pass laws against abortion and the Court strikes those laws down, we can say that the Court is taking away our right to have the sorts of laws that we want.

Thus, there are clearly both good and bad sides to the Court’s power of judicial review. 

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