How Can Supreme Court Decisions Be Overturned

How can US Supreme Court decisions be overturned?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three major ways in which a Supreme Court decision can be overturned.

If the decision is based on a law that Congress has passed, Congress can simply change the law.  The Court sometimes has to rule on how they think laws made by Congress apply to certain cases.  If Congress thinks the Court has gotten it wrong, they can change the law to make things clearer.

If the decision is based on the Constitution, the Constitution can be amended.  For example, the Supreme Court has said that the Constitution bans school-sponsored prayer.  If enough people wanted to, they could pass an amendment allowing such prayers.

Finally (and this is the most common way of overturning Court decisions) a later Supreme Court can decide that a certain decision was wrong.  For example, the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education effectively overruled the decision in made 58 years before in Plessy v. Ferguson.

bor | Student

As an additional note, the SC has overturned themselves about 200 times since it's 1789 inception, mostly NON Landmark cases though.

A SC decision never becomes deseutude in nature, as a statutory law may become outmoded/outdated. Congress can not overturn a SC decision.

This case I cite here is unusual to me, although it states it was heard under a MANDATORY review, I am not a scholar enough to know why it could have been declined.

Anyway, it was dismissed for "want of a substantial federal question", meaning it a Summary decision on the merits. I have no idea how many case through the years were decided like this one though.

Such a  Summary decision can be effectively overruled by an inferior court through "Doctrinal developments" and not by the SC itself, Yes it is confusing to me too?

The case involves same sex marriages, and this case, mostly I suppose, is why states that permit SSM do so under thier own Constitution's.