Does judicial review really strengthen the constitutional principal of checks and balances or not?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of judicial review strengthens the system of checks and balances, in my opinion. Judicial review was established in the case of Marbury v Madison in 1803. This Supreme Court case established the authority of the courts to determine the constitutionality of laws. John Marshall, who was the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, believed that the judicial branch should have a power similar to the power the executive and legislative branches had regarding controlling the development and the passage of laws.

This power has forced the legislative and executive branches to consider how the courts would view a potential law. When Congress was working with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to pass some laws during the New Deal, both groups had to consider how the courts would view these laws. The Supreme Court had declared some previous New Deal laws unconstitutional, such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act. President Roosevelt and Congress, which was controlled by the Democrats, wanted to be sure the Supreme Court would not strike down the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act. They had to take into consideration some of the previous rulings made by the Supreme Court when they developed these bills. Thus, the power of judicial review is an effective way for the judicial branch to control the executive and legislative branches.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While others could disagree, my view is that judicial review really does strengthen the system of checks and balances that was set up by our Constitution.

Judicial review is the practice whereby courts can declare that laws made by Congress or by the state legislatures are invalid because they violate the Constitution.  A law that is declared unconstitutional can no longer be enforced.  This has led to such advances in our society as the banning of segregation in schools.

If there were no judicial review, there would be much less of a check on Congress’s ability to pass laws.  Congress would be able to pass any law that it liked and, so long as the president did not veto the law, that law would stand.  That would make it much easier to pass unconstitutional laws that take away our freedoms.  Whenever Congress and the president were from the same party, there would be nothing to stand in the way of them making any laws they liked.

For this reason, I would argue that judicial review does in fact strengthen our system of checks and balances.