Judicial Branch Not Co-equal but Weakest
The judicial branch of the U.S. government was set up as the weakest branch. It was not to be co-equal with the legislative and executive branches, but rather was to be controlled by the other two—the ones accountable to "We the people" through the election process.
A judgeship being a non-elected position does not mean the judicial branch was intended to be without accountability to the people. This branch was to be held accountable by the people through the other two—the legislative and executive branches.
These other two government branches—being elected by the people—were given more power to keep the weaker judicial branch accountable. The opinion of the nine people on the Supreme Court, therefore, was never intended to be a mechanism for the actual making of laws, as they were not given this power over people by "We the people."
Article III is much shorter
Appointment of federal judges
Judges at the federal level of the U.S. government are placed in their positions by the two more powerful of the three branches of government. These judges are
- first appointed by the executive branch, the president, and then
- confirmed by the legislative branch, or Congress.
The Founders had had real problems with judicial abuses by Britain's judges. There were two main problems they had with the British judiciary. Sam Adams in 1765 stated these as
- life-time appointments, and
- judges unaccountable to the people.
Judges were appointed by the king and they would overrule laws and actions the colonies would take in their own legislatures. They solved such judicial activism problems by how they designed the U.S. Constitution. The Founders designed a judgeship of the U.S. federal court, even the Supreme Court, as a non life-time appointment.
- Federalist Papers - Federalist, No. 78, And The Power Of The Judiciary - Constitution, Hamilton, Peo
In presenting his argument for the independence of the judiciary, Alexander Hamilton claimed that it was by far the weakest of the three branches.
Judges of good moral standing
In Article III of the U.S. Constitution, there is no mention of appointments to the court being for the life-time of the individual. Even more noteworthy is the statement that the individual appointed will hold their office as long as they behave well, or are of good moral standing. What a difference there would be were we citizens to hold our judges to this standard and expected them to act right!
- State's 1st 'gay' Supreme Court justice defies ethics code
Justice Barbara Lenk Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Barbara Lenk, widely heralded as the first openly gay judge on the state's top court, spoke at a homosexual advocacy group's fundraiser only two days after her confirmation...
Historian explains the judiciary from the Constitution
Judges are not to shape policy
The historian in this video explains how it was by design that the judiciary branch "had no major role in shaping policy in the nation." Just compare Article III of the U.S. Constitution with the first two articles. It is by far the shortest of the three!
It was not even until 1935, nearly a century and a half after the founding of the Constitution, that a separate building was provided for the U.S. Supreme Court. Not until 1956 did it even meet for most of a calendar year.
Clearly when reviewing our Founders' many documents they left us for our understanding, the judiciary branch was to be controlled by the other two branches. It was not to be more powerful, or even co-equal, but the weaker of the three branches of government. Each branch of the government is then controlled by "We the people."
Responsibilities and powers granted the judiciary
Take a look at Article III of the U.S. Constitution and see what responsibilities and powers "We the people" have given the judicial branch of our government.
© 2011 Deidre Shelden
More by this Author
The various lenses through which to look at the 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types help delineate the differences between types. The lense of Temperament explains the 16 types in four groupings.
The Founders worked to stop stop the spread slavery in America, but soon after the direction reversed. A few decades of policy promoting slavery resulted in a new political party to fight against it.
The NT personality type has mountain-top vision and rises to the top. However, they become ‘insane’ when they throw out incompetents to sock the competition. Here's how to work under an insane boss.