What factors influence court decisions?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many factors that influence court decisions.  There are not supposed to be, but there are.

Ideally, the only thing that will influence the decision a court makes is the law.  The courts are supposed to make their rulings based solely on the law.  In the case of the Supreme Court, for example, decisions on constitutional law are supposed to be based solely on what the Constitution says on a given issue.

However, judges typically take other things into account.  One thing they take into account is partisan politics.  An example of this is Bush v. Gore, the court case that decided the 2000 presidential election.   It is worth noting that the five conservative justices voted for Bush while the four liberals were in favor of Gore’s position.  Another thing that the justices take into account is the interest of the judicial branch.  An example of this can be seen in the “Obamacare” case.  There, Chief Justice Roberts seems to have gone out of his way to avoid overturning Obamacare.  He presumably did so because he did not want the Court to get blamed for throwing out such an important law that had been passed by the elected branches.

A number of factors, then, can influence the decisions that courts make.


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