Jan 12, 2018 in Law


Answer 1

The role of the Supreme Court is vast and involves checking the actions and decisions of the President and the Congress. It can inform the President that his actions are unconstitutional. It also has the power to tell the Congress that a law that was passed was unconstitutional. Likewise, this power of checking also extends to the states which may have a law or rule which is unconstitutional. Then, the Supreme Court acts as the final judge of all laws as well as the law of the land which is the constitution. The powers of the Supreme Court are limited by the other two branches of the government which are the executive and the legislative ones. The Congress also exercises great power over district and lower federal courts (Scholastic, 2013).

The term judicial review implies that the US Supreme Court makes decisions with respect to cases that involve the interpretation of the US constitution. These are also with respect to the fundamental rights that have been granted in the constitution. As an example, the Fifth Amendment protects the life, liberty, and property of the US residents unless they are provided with due process of law (Jennings, 2013).

There are two methods of constitutional interpretation. The originalist viewpoint suggests that the constitution must be read the way it was initially intended by the originators of the constitution. Then, the subsequent decisions of the court are not considered and only the original meaning of the constitution is extracted. On the other hand, the living constitution is another viewpoint that suggests that the constitution is a living document and can be interpreted in the light of subsequent decisions which have been adapted from its text. It believes that social mores have changed and accordingly there is a need to provide fundamental protection under transient public opinion (Strauss, 2010).

Answer 2

In the case of Morse v. Frederick, 551 US 393 (2007), Joseph Frederick held a banner at a school event saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus". This message promoted marijuana use in the school and elsewhere. Accordingly, the principal of the school who was Deborah Morse took the banner from Joseph and suspended him for 10 days. Joseph went to the court asking for redress on the basis of first amendment of the constitution which provides freedom of speech, press, and assembly. However, the court decided in favor of Morse claiming that the principal had the immunity to curb any such political speech which was detrimental for the attainment of the school's mission. Still, the higher court reversed the decision and ruled that in line with Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District such first amendment right was there unless the student caused any disturbance. However, the student had not caused any disturbance and it was his fundamental right of speech. Finally, the Supreme Court reversed the decision with 5-4 votes contending that school officials had the right to keep the students from such communication.

The lawsuit was brought against section 42 USC 1983. It was claimed that the student had the fundamental right to free speech. However, in this case, it is clear that the student did not have the right to promote marijuana use through his speech and action. The ruling of the case was correct as such rights were generally available but did not apply to a student in the school engaging in wrongful communication.

If I were a Justice in this ruling, I would be at the side of the majority as the school principal had the immunity to correct any such behavior which was not warranted in school premises. It was clear that the student was projecting the use of a drug in the school which no constitution allows to be done under the garb of free speech.

Answer 3      

The second amendment provides the right to the people to hold guns. It has two parts which are the prefatory and the operative parts. These two parts provide protection to the people and the militia to hold guns. Hence, these could be interpreted as providing the right to hold guns to both groups and individual people or to any one of them. However, the interpretation by the court was that the operative part was more powerful which provided individuals with the right to hold guns. This was decided in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

The court not only allowed individuals to have guns but it also overturned a ban on handguns in the Washington, DC area. The case was brought when Heller, one of the residents of Washington area was denied the license to keep a handgun. At the time, there was wide variation among the district courts where many believed that the gun ownership right was a collective one and not an individual right. The evidence for the two sides of the debate comes from the interpretation of the law. The prefatory clause reads it as a right belonging to the militia while the latter clause is purely for individuals (Charles, 2009).

I believe that the gun holding and ownership right is an individual one. The latter clause makes it clear that individuals can hold guns and it is not necessarily the militia alone who may own a gun. It is a general right to bear arms which is available to any and all and not solely to the militia. The court had remained silent on this issue until the late nineteenth century. It was only in the case of United States v. Miller that the court had decided that it was not only the military's right to hold guns but normal individuals could also hold guns that were not very powerful. Still, the problem was not resolved as both sides claimed this right to be on their own sides. This was the reason that the Supreme Court took this case in Heller and rendered its decision.

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