Explain the role of the federal judiciary in lawmaking.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main role of the federal judiciary in lawmaking comes from the fact that the judiciary gets to interpret the Constitution.  Whenever the Supreme Court, for example, says what the Constitution means, it is in effect making laws.  For example, the Constitution says that all people shall have the "equal protection of the laws."  But this is very vague and it is not at all clear what "equal protection" looks like in the real world.  The Supreme Court has gotten the chance to fill in the gray areas.  For example, in 1954, it decided that "separate but equal" public schools did not fit under "equal protection."  When it made this decision, it was essentially making a law.  This is how courts participate in the lawmaking process.

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