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    Wednesday, 26 November 2014

    Judicial Review under USA Constitution

    1. Powers to interpret the constitution
    If a person thinks that the legislature has exceeded its constitutional power in enacting a law, he may challenge the constitutionality of the law in the Court. In deciding the case, the Court interprets the constitution to determine the constitutionality of the Act challenged. This power to interpret the constitution and determine the constitutionality of a statute is called the power of judicial review.

    2. Scope of Judicial Review
    Judicial Review does not only apply to federal and State statutes. Its scope is wider. The constitution of the states, treaties made by the Federal Government and the orders issued by the Federal and State executive’s authorities come within its purview.

    3. Constitutionality of the legislation
    In determining the constitutionality of the legislation, the Court is not concerned with the wisdom, experience or policy of legislation. Even if the Court considers the Act unwise and harmful to both the public and private interests, it is its obligation to sustain the act provided it is within the delegated power.

    4. Supreme Court, the Guardian of the Constitution
    Supreme Court is the Guardian of the Constitution. The Constitution has demarcated respective spheres of action of all the three branches of government on the principle of Separation of Powers. Supreme Court has full authority to explain the sphere of all branches of government and that of the central and state governments.

    5. Importance of Judicial Review
    Supreme Court has assumed a rather superior role over other branches of the government by virtue of its power of Judicial Review House of the Congress. While giving liberal interpretations to the Constitutional law, Supreme Court relied mainly on implied powers, i.e., the power of judicial review.

    6. Origin of Judicial Review
    The Supreme Court faced the issue of judicial review for the first time in the case of ‘Marbury v. Madison’ which was decided din 1803.

    7. Distinguished Between Judicial Review and Judicial interpretation
    Judicial Review is different from judicial interpretation of the statutes. In judicial interpretation of the laws, the courts Endeavour to find their meanings as understood by the lawmakers. The do not declare it unconstitutional and therefore null and void. They do not question the powers of the legislature to make the law. In Judicial Review, the courts interpret the constitution in such a manner as to see whether or not the act in question has violated its provision. If so, they declare it unconstitutional and therefore null and void, because it was ultra-vires of the lawmakers concerned, that is, they have exceeded the powers conferred upon them by the constitution.

    8. Advantages of Judicial Review
    The advantages of the Judicial Review may be summed up as under

    a. Protection of the Constitution
    By virtue of its power of Judicial Review, the Supreme Court can effectively keep all the government and their branches within their respective spheres, hence protect the rights of individuals and those of the institutions.

    b. Growth of the Constitution
    The Framers deliberately avoided going into the details regarding the organization and working of the governmental machinery. There are many words and terms used in the Constitution which can be interpreted in many contexts. Hence, Chief Justice Martial introduced “Judicial Review” based on implied powers.

    c. Veto Power exercised by the president
    President Truman used veto on the Congress laws 226 times; Roosevelt used veto 631 times and Cleave land 583 times. While use of veto power by the president was entirely based on political consideration. And exercise of judicial Review by the supreme court was motivated by constitutionality or otherwise of any law.

    d. Ultimate safeguard of individual liberty
    The Judicial Review has got great significance in American system. The system without judicial review may be incomplete. In a country having separation of power and a political system in which the executive is independent of legislative control and the legislature cannot be dissolved earlier than the expiry of its term the power of Judicial Review constitutes the ultimate safeguard of individual liberty.

    By its power of Judicial Review the Supreme Court has always interpreted the Constitution to meet the needs of the times by evolving the doctrine of implied powers, it has made the centre strong at the cost of the states. Without the US Federalism might have failed in these times of growing centralism. It is also said that Judges are under the constitution but the constitution is what the judges say it is.

    Image credit: www.outsidethebeltway.com

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    Item Reviewed: Judicial Review under USA Constitution Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Usman Ali
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