The Supreme Court and Constraints on Federal Government

The Supreme Court and Constraints on Federal Government

As you discovered in previous weeks, the primary role of the Supreme Court is to uphold the Constitution. The Court does this by hearing cases in which the constitutionality of specific laws and policies must be determined. In this way, the Court oversees actions of the executive and legislative branches. However, foreign policy is one area in which, historically, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to get involved. One reason for the Supreme Court’s reluctance is because foreign policy cases tend to be highly political. For instance, in Goldwater v. Carter, Congress challenged President Jimmy Carter on his nullification of a defense treaty with China. Senator Barry Goldwater filed the lawsuit, stating that the President’s decision required Senate approval. The Supreme Court dismissed the case citing that it was political because it involved a dispute between executive and legislative branches.

Nearly 40 years earlier, the Supreme Court heard the United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export case in which the defendant, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, argued that Congress gave the President too much power over foreign affairs. Given that this case was less political in nature, the Supreme Court agreed to hear it and ruled against the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. In recent years, the Supreme Court has become involved in cases related to the war on terror, one of which (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) you read about this week. In these and other landmark foreign policy cases, the Supreme Court focused on the powers of the executive and legislative branches. The degree to which the Supreme Court constrained or supported executive and legislative powers in their rulings ultimately affects future foreign policy.

To prepare for this Discussion:

 

  • Review the online article “The Supreme Court: Missing in Action.” Reflect on the decisions made by the Supreme Court related to the war on terror and the author’s opinions on the role of the Court in this area of foreign policy. Also, consider the impact of inaction on the part of the Supreme Court.
  • Review the U.S. Supreme Court cases Goldwater v. Carter and United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export in the LexisNexis Academic database. Think about whether or not the final decisions in these cases constrained the federal government in regards to foreign policy.
  • Using the Internet, Walden’s library, and the learning resources this week, select and research a historical or contemporary example that illustrates the Supreme Court’s constraint or lack of constraint on the federal government in regards to a specific foreign policy.
  • Consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s constraint or lack of constraint on the foreign policy from your example.

 

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 3 a brief explanation of a specific example that illustrates the Supreme Court’s constraint or lack of constraint on the federal government in regards to a specific foreign policy. Then explain the impact of the Supreme Court’s constraint or lack of constraint on the foreign policy. Be specific

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court and Foreign Policy

The Supreme Court cannot become involved in a foreign policy, or any other policy, unless there is a legal dispute about it. If there is a legal dispute, the Supreme Court must decide whether or not to hear it. Most Supreme Court cases related to foreign policy focus on the powers of the executive and legislative branches, as seen in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Less often, the focus is on the extent to which foreign policies infringe on individual rights (e.g., the treatment of detainees).

Critics of the Supreme Court’s lack of involvement in foreign policy argue that foreign policy cases about individual rights should be heard, given the Supreme Court’s responsibility to uphold individual rights outlined in the Constitution. Supporters of the Supreme Court’s lack of involvement in foreign policy argue that in areas as publicly controversial as foreign policy and individual rights, the Supreme Court should defer to elected officials in the executive and legislative branches. For this Discussion, you consider these and other arguments and their implications on policy.

To prepare for this Discussion:

 

  • Review the “War Powers Act of 1973.” Reflect on the power of Congress and the President regarding war time issues.
  • Review the article “Rethinking Early Judicial Involvement in Foreign Affairs: An Empirical Study of the Supreme Court’s Docket.” Focus on the two sides of the debate on judicial involvement in foreign affairs, and the history of judicial involvement in foreign affairs.
  • Review the article “The Supreme Court: Missing in Action.” Think about the arguments for the Supreme Court’s involvement in foreign policy. Also, reflect on foreign policy cases and/or issues in which the Supreme Court has chosen not to be involved. Consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s lack of involvement.
  • Review the Goldwater v. Carter, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld cases in the LexisNexis Academic database. Consider how the Supreme Court ruled in each of these cases and any positive or negative impact of such rulings.
  • Take a position for or against the Supreme Court’s involvement in foreign policy.
  • Consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s involvement or lack of involvement in foreign policy.

 

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 an argument for or against the Supreme Court’s involvement in foreign policy. Justify your argument with academic resources. Then explain at least two implications of the Supreme Court’s involvement or lack of involvement in foreign policy. Be specific.

Note: Put your position (for or against) in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who took a different position than you did.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.