Discussion 2: Ultimate Power? Chapter 9 in your textbook covers the American Court System. As you read through it, you will come upon ideas such as “Judicial Review”. For this discussion, you are going to analyze the power of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially as it refers to the 10th Amendment (discussed in the chapter on Federalism). Specifically, in light of recent, very controversial rulings from 2015, how much power should the courts have? You will need to research some of the more recent and salient court decisions and think about how this court gets to have ultimate say in what laws we (and the states) all have to follow. For instance, should states have more of a say about what happens within their borders? What about the gay marriage decision? What about the Supreme Court declining to take a controversial case out of Illinois that effectively upheld a ban on assault weapons as consistent with the Second Amendment? Should there be a realistic check on the Supreme Court? What would that be considering they currently serve life tenures? Since the textbook chapter is required reading for this discussion, you must cite the textbook for this discussion. If you do additional research, cite that as well.

The U.S. Supreme Court holds an immense amount of power in the American political system. As discussed in Chapter 9 of the textbook, one of the most significant powers held by the Court is judicial review, which allows it to declare laws and actions of the other branches of government unconstitutional.

The Court’s power over the interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not delegated to the federal government to the states, has been the subject of many recent controversial rulings. One example is the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide by striking down state bans on such marriages. This decision was met with both praise and criticism, with some arguing that it was an overreach of the Court’s power.

Similarly, the Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010, which held that the Second Amendment applied to state and local governments and struck down Chicago’s ban on handguns, was also controversial. In contrast, the Court declined to hear a case out of Illinois in 2021 that upheld a ban on assault weapons, effectively allowing the ban to remain in place.

The question of whether the Court should have ultimate say in what laws we must follow is a contentious one. Some argue that the Court’s power to strike down laws and actions that violate the Constitution is a crucial aspect of American democracy, as it ensures that the government operates within its constitutional limits. Others argue that the Court is undemocratic because its justices are appointed rather than elected and that their decisions can have far-reaching consequences.

There have been several proposals for how to check the power of the Supreme Court. One is to impose term limits or age limits on justices to ensure turnover on the Court. Another is to require a supermajority of justices to overturn laws or actions of other branches of government. Still, others argue that the Constitution should be amended to clarify or limit the Court’s power.

In conclusion, the power of the U.S. Supreme Court is a complex and controversial issue, and recent rulings regarding the Tenth and Second Amendments have only added to the debate. While some argue that the Court’s power is necessary to ensure that the government operates within its constitutional limits, others argue that there should be more significant checks on the Court’s power. Ultimately, it is up to the American people and their elected representatives to decide how best to balance the need for a strong judiciary with the principles of democratic accountability and limited government.


Magleby, D. B., Light, P. C., & Nemacheck, C. L. (2020). Government by the people (29th ed.). Pearson.
Liptak, A. (2021, April 5). Supreme Court Turns Down Gun Rights Cases. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/05/us/politics/supreme-court-gun-rights-cases.html
Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015).
McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010).