The Us Constitution
.. ished by Congress is hierarchical. The highest court, the Supreme Court, is located in Washington D.C. and consists of nine justices, there are eleven Circuit Courts of Appeals distributed throughout the country, and approximately ninety federal District Courts (Holder 40). Judicial power extends to all cases in which law and equity arise under the Constitution (Holder 42).
The Supreme Court consists of eight associate justices and the chief justice, all appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. Members of the Court are appointed for life terms and can be removed only by resignation or impeachment (Holder 44). Over time, the United States Government has grown steadily in size and complexity, and it is continuing such growth daily. In recent years, such growth in the state and local levels has led to an increased interest in implementation activities- those activities and tasks undertaken after a law is passed (Ripley 24). Graphical trends show that government spending, employment, and spending as a percentage of the Gross National Product have increased at a healthy pace since the beginning of our nation’s existence, and such trends are predicted to continue their rise well into the twenty-first century (Ripley 25).
Implementation of programs on the federal level are rarely directed straight from the national government in Washington, D.C. Most require a combination of federal field offices, state governments, local governments, and local nongovernmental actors. Such actors, through providing services to beneficiaries, have become important implementers. For example, many programs created to compensate the unemployed are implemented by a network of groups including the United States Employment Service, fifty separate state employed security agencies, and countless local offices as a result of those fifty state agencies. Other employment agencies include the national office of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the United States Department of Labor, ten regional ETA offices, fifty state offices, and between five hundred and six hundred local service delivery areas. As shown, one governmental program can easily encompass numerous agencies and office space, and with such programs arising daily, this translates into rapid governmental expansion (Ripley 26).
Due to the fact that programs, whose numbers have grown significantly in recent years, need bureaucrats in order to be implemented, America’s bureaucracy has increased in the same manner as its programs have. Two main factors have contributed to the growth of bureaucracy in government. First, specific external trends and events such as violence and economic difficulties cause complex growth because of the programs that are necessary to halt such problems. Second, a bureaucrat working for a specific agency has a natural tendency to improve the importance of his agency’s work; thus, his efforts result in expanded bureaucracy (Ripley 43). Although some political scientists argue that a growing government will limit freedom of the people, many believe that government’s increased role in the lives of Americans serves to protect civil liberties and civil rights.
Throughout United States history the Supreme Court has been called upon to interpret the Constitution in one or two possible ways. First, a “strict constitution” of national law, which upholds the belief that the states are vested with ultimate governmental authority, while the federal government should only have secondary authority. Second, a less strict, more federalist position, which maintains that the Constitution, due to a broad interpretation, hints toward implied powers in the central government. The second view was especially prominent from 1801 to 1835, under chief justice John Marshall (Armstrong and Woodward 210). Under Marshall, the case of Marbury vs.
Madison (1803) involved a contested appointment by the predecessor of then Secretary of State James Madison. The Court held that an act of Congress in conflict with the Constitution was void and that the Supreme Court possessed the power to declare if such a conflict existed. This decision set the precedent for what is known today as judicial review, and provides the Court with a means of checking the legislature (Armstrong and Woodward 214). It is a common belief that no body of doctrine, such as the Constitution, is ever fully developed at the time of its completion. With an ever changing society, it is apparent that the Constitution must transform along with society through interpretations of provisions to the original text.
This distinction is put in the hands of the Supreme Court justices who are forced to confront circumeztial changes and new situations of modern times quite frequently. They are expected to reshape the doctrine in compliance with the original ideas of the Constitution, or “the intentions of the Framers”, to ensure that new provisions do not deprive man of the right to govern himself (Bork 513). Since the birth of the United States, Americans have formed an unbreakable habit of evolving economic, political, philosophical, and social questions into lawsuits. It is because of this habit that the Supreme Court is often the eventual resting place for a societal issue (Brennan 517). Such situations are prime examples of how the Constitution displays qualities of a “living” document. Despite the fact that the original text is over two hundred years old, the document, through the interpretation of the Supreme Court, is still able to consistently shape public policy at will.
Although people argue that the Constitution is irrelevant today because it doesn’t properly define the goals of American government, the Constitution has not become irrelevant, and it is still the driving force behind our government. American’s idea of rights are shaped daily by the Bill of Rights and the acts that Congress is prohibited to amend. Through the use of Lockean philosophy concerning the nature of man, the Constitutional rights will always pertain to the needs of society, despite the fact that such thought is nearly three hundred years old. The Constitution also regulates the powers of each governmental structure by allowing a system of checks and balances to emerge. The continuing growth of government in recent years causes more legislation, but ultimately preserves civil right and liberties through such growth.
The Supreme Court is able to mold public policy with every decision it hands down on every case it oversees. The relevancy of the Constitution is quite clear in the everyday lives of each American, and it establishes itself as the “supreme law of the land” on a regular basis.