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POLI 330N Week 5 Discussion Question 2, The Supreme Court

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This is a graded discussion: 20 points possible

Week 5 Introduction – The Supreme Court and the Judiciary

Section Overview

This chapter describes the role that courts play in the U.S. system of
government and politics. It focuses on three main issues:

  • What is the legitimate role of judicial power in a democratic system of government?
  • What is the proper scope of judicial power? Can we easily separate judicial interpretation from lawmaking?
  • How should we understand the relationship between law and
The lesson this week suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court is the least democratic branch of government, and yet it serves an important function in our democracy.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected? Would you change the way the court is appointed?

Hello Professor and classmates! The president elects the federal judges of the Supreme Court but the Senate must approve them as well. Federal judges are checked out before hand by the FBI and are suggested from a list from the attorney general. Roskin states that, “Presidents now, however, appoint judges of their own political party who share their judicial philosophy” (10/2013, p. 247). This is understandable that you would appoint someone who agrees with your views.

     Also, the federal judges are allowed to serve a life term unless they are impeached, this helps to alleviate the political and executive pressure from them. This is an advantage because these judges do not have to worry about pleasing the public, so they can therefor stay true to their beliefs and principles. The disadvantage of this is that this unelected official has to be liked enough to be appointed in the first place.

I would not change the way the court is appointed because I believe that they are able to serve the public more justly and do what is right rather than being influenced by someone else’s opinion.


Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., Medeiros, J. A., Jones, W. S. (10/2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from


The only thing I would probably change with the appointment of the Supreme Court is to make it a national election. I would keep the lifetime appointment in place. That way, once they are elected, they cannot be removed, unless, like you said, they are impeached. They can still stick to their principles, but it is not just a select group of people that approve of the president’s selection.


Do you feel that a national vote for supreme court justice would make a large difference? Since the majority voted the president in, who appoints the justice, do you feel like the majority would also choose the same justice? Or at least a justice with the same values? I think that if the majority has elected a president with their values, they would also elect a justice with those same values. I also think that the life term should stay in effect. This allows for diversity in the supreme court. It also allows for them to be free of the stresses of the voter’s opinion, thus giving them free reign to make decisions based upon the law and their personal convictions. This allows for an unbiased court.


The national vote you are talking about for the Super Court, would it be when one of the Justices is ill or passes away, or would it be a term limit? I feel that the system we have in place now is a very safe and effective system.  Yes, when a Justice passes and needs to be replaced the President must act from the list that is presented to him/her.  The President will still have their agenda in his/her mind which could balance or unbalance votes in the future decisions. The life term that they have gives them the atmosphere of no stressors like you state. This is important because they can research and make their legal decision on the law and own mind.


Hey Scott, interesting post! I don’t think a national vote for supreme court justice would make a big difference. I agree, if majority voted for the president in, I feel they would vote for a like minded justice. I like the life term deal but I also think they would benefit from fresh minds every once in a while. I think this idea will allow for diversity as well, still being free from stress, voter’s opinions, and ruling in an unbiased court. You made some great points here! Thanks for sharing.


Good points!  I have to say I am on the fence but can relate to your position on fresh terms rather than for life.  An example would be what if an individual did not meet the requirements for impeachment but their actions deterred greatly from what was intended.  With a life term we are stuck.


The critical “check” in our systems of checks and balances

Students, the US Supreme Court is an apolitical body that decides whether a law(s) is constitutional by applying the principles of the US Constitution such as Equal Protection, freedom of speech and association, Due Process, habeas corpus, among others. The members of the US Supreme Court are nominated by the President and, with the “advice and consent” of the Senate, confirmed to their seat on the court. So, clearly, the process for selecting and affirming a Justice to the Supreme Court is a political process. However, the Justices are not elected and thus are “immune” from the pressures of the political and election process. The Founding Fathers believed this was a critical component to an adequate system of checks and balances in our three branches of government.

Explain why they thought this was so, and whether you agree or disagree.

I believe that the founding fathers seen this as being a critical component in that helps to protect the Justices from making decisions based on politics. If the voters where responsible for electing these individuals it would call for a campaign similar to that of the president and senators. When this takes place, it then forces these individuals to side with a political party. Once the justices have sided with a party, they feel more pressure to make decisions based on the views of that party, when they should be making the decisions based on the law written in the constitution by our founding fathers. In addition to this, it could be said that there is no reasoning to have the judicial branch as much of their views would be based on politics, which is how decisions are made within the legislative branch. There would be not need to past legilation through another group of people in order for the same decision to be made. For this reason, I feel as if the Founding Fathers made the appropriate decision to have this type of checks in place in order to ensure no one political party is completely in charge of our nations law.

I agree that the Supreme Court is apolitical, but the process is political.  The judges are apolitical once they become justices, but when they are selected and confirmed, they have a political affiliation.  Most judges that are selected are affiliated with the party of the president that nominated them.  “Senate approval used to be routine but is now highly political” (Roskins 2013 pg. 247). Republicans try to block Democratic candidates that they feel are too liberal and Democrats try to block Republican candidates that they feel are too liberal.  Each party tries to stack the court in their favor, especially since the appointments are for life.

Roskin, M. G.; Cord, R. L.; Medeiros, J. A.; Jones, W. S. (2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th EdPearson.


Professor and class,

I agree with this system of checks and balances, as it allows for an interaction of the three branches of government that prevents one from becoming immune from the other’s scrutiny.

The president proposes the candidate, and the Senate must approve of the candidate before they can be elected. This prevents the President from picking whichever Justice that will simply fall in line with the President’s viewpoints, or try to give the President more power by ruling in his favor on laws.

The Senate doesn’t have the power of picking the candidate, but they can help determine the best candidate for the job. This allows them to prevent the President from choosing a biased judge, and the overall system helps to filter the Judicial branch into only the best Justices getting the approval, which will lead to the best interpretation of the law from hopefully what will be the best men and women chosen for the job.

The supreme court plays a special role in the U.S system of government since it has the power to check on the actions of both the president and the congress if deemed necessary. Basically, the supreme court and its members can tell the president or the congress about violations to the constitution or if their actions are allowed or not. I definitely agree that the supreme court fulfills the united state’s definition of having checks and balances in their system of government. How I see it is that different branches of government including executive powers, the congress, and different government officials are the players to a basketball game and the supreme court is a referee that calls each player out when a foul is committed. Supreme court tires to ensure that each branch pass or enforce laws within the set boundaries. Having this to me brings more advantages and benefits than losses.


Hi Professor and classmates,

Legislation branch job is to make laws. Executive branch job is to execute laws. Judicial branch job is to interpret the laws.  The job of the Checks and balances is to limit and check the other two branches. This creates a balance between he three separate powers.

The constitution gives a lot of power to the legislated due to being scared of the executive having more power. Due to history, for example, Alla King George the III. The house of representative can impeach the president. The senate can remove the president from office but only if 2/3 vote for the impeachment. The senate can also check the president on appointments of judges and official by rejecting them. Known as advice and consent. Either branches can check the executive activities and officers. If the president veto’s a law, congress can override the veto with 2/3 votes. Legislative branch can limit the judicial branch by removing judges. Just as they can by impeaching presidents. The senate can reject judicial nominees by checking on judge before they even get there.  Congress can change the federal courts system by adding or taking away courts as stated in article 3. Congress can propose amendments to the constitution like the 13, 14,15th amendment. Executive branch can veto laws, call congress but can’t pass them.  They can nominate supreme court justices and judges. Also can pardon people that were convicted by the courts which cancel there judgments.

The judicial branch has the fewer checks on the other two branches. They check legislators by declaring the laws unconstitutional. They check the executive branch by declaring acts on constitutional. Example was the Youngstown Shect and Tube CO. VS  Sawyer. They issue warrants in federal crime cases and also participate in impeachment trails. Most importantly they validating laws and executive actions.

The powers of each branch are limited so that each can check and balance each other so that the government wont act in ways to harm the citizens and pick the interest to favor the citizens. Its basically a safeguard for the people.


Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., Medeiros, J. A., Jones, W. S. (10/2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from

youtube- Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances: Crash Course Government and Politics #3

Edited by Lelany Jimenez on Nov 26, 2017 at 8:47pm

Hi Everyone!

Advantages: They work for the good of the nation, and not for the prevalence of what is going on. They are able to make changes to the legislation. They are nominated by the president, and approved by the Senate after the FBI clears the nominee (Roskin, Cord, Medeiros, & Jones, 2017, p. 289). Lifelong term, but can be impeached.

Disadvantages: They do not work for the people. May have a difficulty adapting to unbiased views. Unfamiliar by the average citizen. Life term, unless impeached. Empty seats because the Senate doesn’t agree with the nominees because of being too liberal, as evidence by the period under Clinton and Obama (Roskin et. al, 2017, p. 289).

I would not change the way the court is appointed.  As history has shown, the Senate truly takes their job serious when electing these members.  Under the Clinton and Obama administration seats were left empty because of the nominees being too liberal, whereas, under Bush 43, seats were left empty because of the nominees being too conservative.  This makes me believe that they do not just run to fill a spot, but they ensure that a qualified person who will have the nation’s interest in mind fills the seat.  “It’s not unheard of for a justice’s seat to remain empty for a considerable amount of time. The longest gap was 841 days, in the mid-1840s. The second-longest vacancy in recent years occurred in 1988, which took 237 days” (Shalby, 2017, para. 2).


Shalby, C. (2017, March 30). Scalia’s seat has been vacant longer than any Supreme Court justice’s in nearly 50 years. Retrieved November 19, 2017, from

Hi Amber,

I agree with  not changing the way the court is appointed and their lifetime roles. The Supreme Courts purpose is to uphold constitutional rights and by eliminating elections and personal agendas these justices can focus on the task at hand allowing for unbiased decisions. Its unfortunate a seat may be left unfilled for a length of time but I believe that if its necessary to ensure a just system then time is irrelavent.

Hello Amber, this was a great post. I agree that things shouldn’t change with the life time term for the justice. I also found the information to be interesting because before i read about the seats being “empty” I didn’t that was allowed. I agree the seats should be empty until they have someone who is serious about the job and who are qualified for the job. This was a great post! Thanks for sharing.
      • Brandy Bryant

        Professor and classmates,

        “As the final arbiter of the law, the court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby also function as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution” ( I could be wrong, but i feel that the Supreme Court having nine justices from varying walks of life makes it more of a fair trial. When people from varying areas are able to combine and discuss opinions and rulings to find the most just by the combined determination of their interpretation of the constitution. The court and constitutional interpretation. Retreived from https://www.supreme



      • Collapse SubdiscussionDana Wright

        Professor Terwilliger –

        Norms and values have to be set aside with regard to local and national laws.  What is a social norm in one city in the US is not necessarily the social norm in another with Hollywood being a prime example of such.

        An oath is taken by each Justice at the time of swearing in to make unbiased decisions based on facts without the persuasion of personal and popular opinion; however, to believe that some personal values are not taken into consideration in those decisions would be unrealistic.  To have a collective group of Justices, all with different cultural backgrounds, political ideologies and personal preferences, I think, likely works into the favor of the US Supreme Court and the judgments they make.  Lengthy discussions are had, debates happen and ultimately an agreement is reached.  So to say the decisions made by the Justice’s are impartial and unbiased is a fair statement, but not without the conversations amongst eachother to reach such judgments.

        – Dana

        I couldn’t agree more with you Dana. We all have our own past experience and use it to make better decisions for our future. It would be unrealistic to think the Justices don’t have their own thoughts on matters outside of the what the law states. I have faith in the collective wisdom of the system we have in place. I know each judge goes through a rigorous process in order to be voted into their position. I think the norms and values they look at are what we have had as acceptable norms and values, that’s why past judgements are so important to look at, they reflect our culture.


        Professor Terwilliger,

        Interpreting law using norms and values must difficult for them. They all have different backgrounds and differences in values. The good thing is that they don’t have to rush a decision so they get to look at how the interpretation would effect the whole country. While referencing previous cases to help guide there decision. They also need to look past social norms as this is not always best as they vary across the country. They also must determine if the general law of the constitution might be broken in anyway. Just because it’s popular now doesn’t mean it’s the best  for the country. They need to evaluate if it infringes on civil rights, personal protection, equality in any way.

        Hi Travis!

        I enjoyed reading your post.  It is true that interpreting laws using norms and values vs. one’s personal life experience must be difficult.  Personally, when I make decisions I reflect on similar events that occurred in my life or that directly impacted me, and the pros/cons for each decision I make based on my personal feeling, not the “black and white” what is good for the country vs. what is socially acceptable.  I believe it is important the Supreme Court have a significant amount of time for discussion, reflection, review, research, etc., in order to ensure the people of the US are being protected.  Given the fact that each region and state are different from the others, I suspect it would be difficult to come to a decision that is good for the nation as a whole.   According to Mott (n.d), to maintain the courts consistency and credibility, they regularly refer to previous Supreme Court decisions while it is considering new cases.  Adhering to a standard of stare decisis, or letting previous decisions stand, the Court is typically reluctant to reverse or stray from the decisions on prior cases, unless they are extremely outdated.  Once a majority (5 or more Justices) supports one side of the case, a Justice(s) writes and circulates “draft” opinions, or explanations of the Court’s decision. The majority decides the outcome of the case and a final opinion is written and announced to the public”.



        Mott Ph.D., J. D. (n.d.). Supreme Court Decision Making. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from


        I am with you on your posting the adherence of standards according to Mott (Supreme Court Decision Making). We must have consistency and credibility for our country is in dire straits at the moment. They all have to get together to reflect what is at hand, review all sources, research in detail the what ifs and discussion among all these bring about a wise and morally correct law decision. I appreciate your article reference very insightful.


        I agree that the court should be tactful in making decisions.The Supreme Court should look to its past decisions in order to decide a present case. I think that this approach produces a clear-cut guide, making interpretation predictable, and prevents the Court from contradicting itself. It is argued that many precedents are contradictory and support for any outcome is possible.

        Professor Terwilliger

        Supreme Court holds the power to overturn laws and executive actions they deem unlawful or unconstitutional. The Supreme Court cannot directly enforce its rulings, but it relies on respect for the Constitution and for the law for adherence to its judgments.

        California vs Texas: Both states are geographically large, coastal, resource rich, and ethnically diverse. Has Hollywood lost touch with American values? It has been noted that Hollywood does not understand the values of America or the foundation on which the country is built. They are being described as only understanding money, sex and power. As Americans it can be surmised that we should stand against what they represent. Boycott their low values. We can create change when we stand up as a voice and no longer support their immoral ways. There are the laws that represent us in Congress. What did Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch mean for Hollywood, he will take on non-social issues impacting Hollywood, he will keep one eye on the future and one eye on the past. He quoted “I resist pigeon holes”. Pigeon holing someone as having one philosophy or another often surprise. “People do unexpected things and pigeon holes ignore gray areas in the law, of which there are many”.

        Pigeon holing in Government, is any process that attempts to classifying disparate entities into a small number of categories (usually, mutually exclusive ones). The committee chair has the right to pigeon hole (not assign or hear debate on the bill). (Merriam-Webster dictionary).


        While there are different “norms and values” as you say in each state and region of our country, I believe the Supreme Court looks at the norms and values of our country as a whole rather than individual states. Considering it is a federal branch, it has to take a broad look at the country and make its decision based off the current norms of today as the majority opinion rather than trying to appeal to the norms of each and every state, as that is simply not possible.

        Professor and class,

        What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected?

        Some advantages to having a branch of government that is not democratically elected is that the justices can remain impartial to any political party. They can base their decisions solely on their beliefs and their interpretation of the constitution. “Clearly, justices’ personal convictions influence their decisions (Roskin, pg. 254).” Justices are appointed to a life term. This means that they can rule without worry of elections. The freedom of not having a political campaign also eliminates campaign spending.

        One of the disadvantages is that justices’ decisions do not always reflect public opinion. Often in history the public has disagreed with the court’s rulings. They have the final say. “Justices are expected to be impartial, but the importance of the Court gives them political power (Roskin, pg. 255). “This power can leave the public feeling disadvantaged and unheard. A prime example is the reaction of congress to the Warren Court. “In the opinion of some, as 96 Southern members of Congress put it, the Court overturned “the established law of the land” and implemented its “personal political and social philosophy” (Roskin, pg. 255).”

        Would you change the way the court is appointed?

        I would not change the way the court is appointed. History has proven that this is a very effective system and it should not be changed, in my opinion. I think it allows for a diverse court and permits it to be unbiased and focused on the constitution when making its decision. The appointments by different presidents makes for a mix of political parties and views. The life term allows for different generations to come together to form a decision.


        Roskin, M, Cord, R, Medeiros, J, & Jones, W. (2014). Political Science:

                 An introduction (13th ed). Hoboken, N.J.: Pearson

        William, I think you make great points about the diversity of having people chosen by one person and having to be agreed upon by the senete. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it is great to have different levels of experience and age within this group giving a variation of opinions, but they can all come together for a disission.


        An advantage of having the justices not elected by the people is that they cannot be swayed in fear of going against their constituents. They are nominated by the presidents but must be approved by the Senate after a thorough investigation. In this sense, they are not democratically elected. They can, therefore, rule with “independent and immune to congressional, White House, and private interest pressure” (Roskin, Cord, Medeiroes, and Jones, 2014, p. 255).

         A disadvantage would be that judges have their own beliefs, and can be swayed by their peers “philosophies” when they are expected to be impartial. A seat on the court can remain empty if a nominee is not agreed upon.

        I would not change the way the court is appointed at this time. It has proven to be beneficial. As stated in Roskin et al., (2014), if it weren’t for the Supreme Courts leading the way, Congress would not have passed the civil-rights bill. Their decisions alter the laws and essentially ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.


        Roskin, M, Cord, R, Medeiros, J, & Jones, W. (2014). Political Science: An introduction (13th ed). Hoboken, N.J.: Pearson.

        The advantage is that such unelected official does not have to fashion everything he does so that to please the public. For example, an unelected judge is more at ease making judgments that are correct but unpopular. Judges are loyal to power. They have power, prestige and influence. Lastly, they will have some political leaning.

        The disadvantage is that unelected official has to be well liked by enough people in the ruling class to be nominated or appointed in the first place.Also, they are out of touch with society – Because they are not working for the people, they may not be able to tell what the person on the street needs. As a result they are not able to adapt to what is going on.


        You made a great point with the disadvantages of an unelected official. They are not going to be in touch with what the common people want or need. I think if we were allowed to vote for all levels of government, even Supreme Court, there would be a more effective representation. The judge elected would be in the office for life. They would be able to still vote the same as if appointed by the president.


        What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected? Would you change the way the court is appointed?

        Professor Terwilliger,

        The advantages of having a branch of government not elected are that they are selected on qualifications and views. The attorney general screens candidates and then gives them to the President to review. Although the President selects candidates based on their political and religious views, this doesn’t mean they always vote conservative or liberal. They job is to interpret the constitution and law not to create. Since they don’t have to worry about being voted out they can evaluate the problem placed in front of them without repercussions. Even with the system of selecting Supreme court justices not being elected, there is still balance in that the political parties of our presidents change and so they can select judges to there liking when permitted. This has allowed different interpretations of controversial cases and laws to be reviewed, Some upheld and some modified.

        I would not change the system because this should continue to keep the circus of elections out of are judiciary system. No system is perfect but I feel this is the best option and has worked for a long time. It has also allowed for black and female judges to be placed that probably would have never been elected into office.

        Reference: Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., James A. Medeiros, Jones, W. S. (10/2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieve

        • Great discussion all!\

          Sometimes our moral reasoning may conflict with legal reasoning. With this in mind, let’s consider the concepts of gun control and also free speech. When the second amendment was adopted (the right to bear arms) the Founding Fathers wanted to protect the common citizen from being overrun by the government. But when it was created, we did not have guns such as AK-47s or other assault rifles. Additionally, when the first amendment was adopted (which includes, among others, freedom of speech and association), the Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that all citizens had the right to associate with whomever they please, express their opinions without fear of government reprisal, and so on. But, at that time, there was no digital media (only the printed word).

          With this in mind, do you find that the court system should support no limits on gun control or freedom of speech? For example, under the Second Amendment, and because the government (i.e., the police and military) have access to certain types of weapons, do the people also need them in order to defend themselves in the case of tyranny? Additionally, under the First Amendment, and because everyone and anyone can “publish” their option via instant digital media (i..e, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on), should limits be placed on permitting publication of “legitimate” opinions or facts?

          What are your thoughts?

          My personal belief is that the government and court system should support the First Amendment and the Second Amendment as they are a drastic part of America’s historical background. I say this with limits, though, only because our world today is much different than it was when these things came to be and that has to make SOMEWHAT of a difference in how we do things and what we still deem our ‘Constitutional right.’ The Founding Fathers had the right idea and these rights are what America stands for and what leads us to this day but I’m sure they couldn’t have predicted the changes in society and people in general. Even over the last 50-75 years.

          Unfortunately, there have been life altering situations in our society where acts of terrorism, massacre, and extreme violence have been exhibited by individuals who had no logical reason to act that way. These situations that involve gun violence and other heinous acts are one of the only reasons why I believe in the 2nd Amendment BUT with limitations. Like our professor stated, AK-47’s were not a thing back in the old days and neither were assault rifles. These weapons allow for mass destruction and killing when put into the hands of the wrong people. With this being said, I do not think that gun control should make its way into the lives of people who choose to own guns for sport, hobby, or personal desires. I say this being that I know plenty of people like this and I do not worry about them using their guns for crime. But how do we regulate these things? Well, you place extensive regulations on who can buy a gun and how long it takes to acquire that gun. I do think that every state should have psychological testing for possible gun owners and there should definitely be a longer waiting period for somebody who is looking to purchase a firearm. With all of this though, I do not believe that guns themselves are the problem. People are the problem. The root of the problem. There will always be special circumstances with any law and there will always be people who take things too far. Good people with guns have not been known to cause harm but bad people with guns do.

          In regards to the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech, I feel pretty much the same way about this that I do on gun control. I believe that everybody has the right to their own opinion and can feel the way they want to feel regarding whatever topic, but I don’t necessarily believe that running your mouth on social media (using that as an example because it’s so abused nowadays) has any relation to what the Founding Fathers were trying to get at. I think I would support the idea of limits being placed on permitting publication of ‘legitimate’ facts instead of only opinions. Don’t get me wrong, opinions are great and we are all encouraged to have them. But sometimes things get taken too far when, again, the wrong people take the context of freedom of speech to purposefully hurt, shame, harass, or put others down. Which is where I draw the line and have a problem with it.

          I’m sure we all have big opinions on these topics and other similar ones as they are quite controversial…


          Thank you for your thought provoking and interesting post. I agree with you that the First and Second Amendment should remain unchanged. For that matter, I believe that the Bill of Rights should not be altered. I say this, not because I’m trying to differentiate between moral reasoning and legal reasoning, but because altering any amendment in the Bill of Rights is inherently dangerous. It’s true that the forefathers, in writing these amendments, did not have access to AK-47s. If they had, it would have made the job of routing the British all the easier. And the forefathers did not have to endure Paris Hilton’s tweetstorm of selfies. However, the temptation to change these first two amendments is often an attempt to legislate behavior. In the last 25 years, we have seen a sharp increase in violence and in people being distasteful in the “running of their mouth”. However, the Bill of Rights is there to ensure the fundamental rights of people of all historical ages, including the early part of the 21st century. Just because society has turned violent and mouthy does not give the government the authority to potentially violate the rights of the masses in order to correct social deficits. Some would argue that we need to alter the Bill of Rights to counter modern problems. I would counter that what we need are laws to counter modern stupidity aimed at the guilty, rather than limiting the rights of all in an attempt to improve a society of social corrosion. Anyone remember the last time we legislated morality in an attempt to improve society …? We called it Prohibition … How’d that work out for ya’ …??? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enact laws with moral reasoning as their basis. What I am saying is that a strong Bill of Rights protects the interest of the masses. As Fletcher (1987) states, moral principles supplement valid enactments as components of the law.

          Thank You,



          Fletcher, G. (1987). Law and morality: A kantian perspective.

          Columbia Law Review. Retrieved from

 (Links to an external site.)


          Thank you for the informative post.  I did not realize that the seats on the Supreme Court can go unfilled if the Senate does not approve.  So, is this court political or not?  In some respects, it might be as not approving the Justice and not filling the seat.  If the senate member does not vote to affirm the justice, is it because of their views or from our words that we have spoken to them?

          Just some interesting thought going on in my mind.  Yes, they work for the people of our country to assure the laws are fair and just and that everyone has been served correctly. We really live in a great country, especially when this was all thought of when the country was formed.


          Hi Amber, 

          The fact that seats have been left unfilled for periods at a time show how critical the decision is when deciding on the next justice of the Supreme Court. I agree with not changing the manner in how the court is appointed. Its true that it is not very democratic but this method can help prevent outside influences that may occur during election periods. I believe it also relieves any pressures when reviewing cases that are brought to the courts.

          Professor Terwilliger and Class,
          Some advantages of the Supreme Court are the ability of justices to make decisions based on their interpretation of the law without fear being swayed by public opinion.  Additionally, their judicial review prevents the President from passing laws that contradict the Constitution.  Disadvantages of the Supreme Court are the limitations placed upon the court to fresh ideas and viewpoints that may be provided through regular replacements.  Additionally, democratic appointees can be viewed as too liberal while republican appointees can be seen as too conservative.  Collectively, having differing opinions between those appointed can create issues in the judicial process requiring longer discussions and debates before coming to a decision but can also provide each justice a well rounded view on the topic being discussed.
          I would not change the way the court is appointed because I can appreciate both the aforementioned advantages and disadvantages of having government enacted this way.  Having justices rationalize their opinions amongst eachother for the greater good of Americans is fair and just in that public opinion has no bearing in the discussions.  Personal opinion may factor in, but the oath taken by justices upon swearing in attests to their decisions to be based upon facts and not personal beliefs.
          – Dana
              Hi Dana! I enjoyed your post and wanted to expand on it a bit. It is a fine balance I’m sure to have a well-rounded court of judges. Roskin stated, “Bush 43 appointed conservatives as several vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court. In this way, his conservative legacy lived long after his presidency. President Obama appointed two liberal women justices in an attempt to counterbalance the conservative tilt” (10/2013, p. 248). I think it is a smart and innovative idea to appoint people who have similar and different views than legislation. That is how a fair and just judicial system who be able to benefit the people best.


          Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., Medeiros, J. A., Jones, W. S. (10/2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from

          Professor Terwilliger and Class,

          What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected?

          Although federal judges are appointed, the Senate still has to confirm them. So, even though judges are not elected, per se, the president typically nominates judges in line with his party beliefs. If the majority in the Senate is also of the same party as the nominating president, the confirmation process can be fast. So, in essence, when you vote for president, you are voting for the types of judges (liberal or conservative) that the president will appoint. Your presidential vote is a defacto vote for federal judges.

          So, even with this defacto election (nomination), judges, once confirmed are on the bench for life. The good news here is the fact that, since this is a lifetime appointment and with hundreds of federal judges on the bench, it is not possible for one president (or party) to nominate a majority of the justices. This provides for long term balance.

          Some of the advantages vs disadvantages of appointing judges:


          Judges can rule without fear of party (voter) repercussions.

          They are free to interpret the Constitutionality of cases before them (giving them real authority).

          The best candidate for the job (ABA vetted) can be chosen.


          Judges may be accused of legislative activism from the bench (impeachment is the only way to remove them).

          Vacancies can go unfilled for years if the Senate blocks the confirmation of candidates (usually falling on party lines).

          Voters may feel disenfranchised by a system that does not allow them to directly select judges they feel will be fair and honest. Often, the public knows little about the candidates for the bench until they are nominated or confirmed. Candidates may not be forthcoming with their beliefs on the Constitution. (Think positions on Roe vs Wade or gun control). According to Roskin (2014), judicial review is highly developed in the U.S. Americans expect more of their courts than do other peoples.

          The process of confirmation can get ugly with Senate hearings.

          Would you change the way the court is appointed?

          No. Simply because the sheer volume of appointees guarantees appointing of judges across the political spectrum as administrations change and as control of the Senate changes. The lifetime appointment ensures stability in the judicial system that an election system for choosing judges would undermine. Historically, the current system has worked well. Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

          Thank You,



          Roskin, M, Cord, R, Medeiros, J, & Jones, W. (2014). Political Science:

                   An introduction (13th ed). Hoboken, N.J.: Pearson.

          Dear Professor and Classmates, 

          What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected?
          •    One of the disadvantages that I have found is that “personal beliefs and ideology loom large in their decisions, raising the question of whether the Court can be an impartial dispenser of justice” (Roskin, 2014, pg. 253). Another disadvantage is that justices are in the position for a life term. If a justice is chosen by the president and approved by the senate but they eventually stop doing the great job they once did, this would place the Supreme Court in a tough situation of having to oust someone who was given a life term.
          •    One of the advantages is that since the Supreme Court justices are not actually elected then they are able to maintain focus on what is important to them and the country and not have to focus on campaigning and election poll’s every few years.
          Would you change the way the court is appointed?
          •    I would not change the way that these courts are appointed. I feel that once approached to become a Supreme Court justice, these judges have proven themselves elsewhere. I think that being able to keep your focus on what is right without having to consider the influence from congress, the White House, or interest groups is a great thing to maintain adequate and appropriate justice.

          Roskin, M, Cord, R, Medeiros, J, & Jones, W. (2014). Political Science:
          An introduction (13th ed). Hoboken, N.J.: Pearson.

          Hi Brandy! I agree with your viewpoint on not changing the way the courts are appointed. As you stated, these judges have proved themselves. I also like the fact that “The president considers the reputation-based ratings of prospective judges by the American Bar Association (ABA)” (Roskin, 10/2013, p. 247). Also, it is a wonderful idea that the FBI checks out each candidate, as they should with any member of government in my opinion and that the Senate must approve them. It seems like the process of becoming a federal judge is quite extensive,h however, lucky for the people, so that we have top-notch officials making judgments in our country.


          Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., Medeiros, J. A., Jones, W. S. (10/2013). Political Science: An Introduction, 13th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from

          Brandy, I agree with your post. I enjoy reading other people’s opinions on the advantages and disadvantages. One of your advantages are that they are not elected in allowing them to focus on what they need to do. To me, this was a disadvantage because I think we should have a choice in who sits in the Supreme Court. I could look at it in the way that if the person I voted for to be President got elected, then I must want similar things to what the president wants right? So therefore, by the president choosing a judge would somehow be me choosing that judge because I believe in the president’s choices correct? I think this idea would only work if my choice candidate always won!

          Professor Terwilliger & Classmates

          An advantage of having a branch of Government that is not democratically elected, is that the unelected official can make a judgment that may not please everyone but one that is correct and thereby protects the interests of the people.

          A disadvantage of having a branch of government that is not democratically elected, it might allow for misuse of public funds and time. We may add another factor such as a system that is governed by a corrupt, irresponsible and incompetent leader.

          I would not change the way the court is appointed. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President when an empty seat becomes vacant and are filled according to their having qualifications such as Political ideology, Party and Personal Loyalties, Ethnicity and Gender and Experience. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life. Most have had tenure (approximately holding a seat 16 years) and superb guidance as they are independent, immune to congressional,White House, and private interest parties Roskin (2014. Ch.15 Pg.255).

          It was once said by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A Supreme Court Justice should be a combination of Justinian, Jesus Christ, and John Marshall”.

          Justinian: (Roman emperor quote): Justice is the constant and perpetual wish to render to every one his due.

          Jesus Christ: (Deuteronomy 16:18-20): You shall appoint for yourselves judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your GOD is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people.

          John Marshall: His court opinions helped lay the basis for the United states Constitutional law and many say he made the Supreme court of The United states a coequal branch of government along with legislative and executive branches.

          US history of Truth, Justice and Liberty For All is what matters, to support our First Amendment constitutional rights.


          Roskin, M.G, Cord, R.L, Medeiros, J.A., & Jones, J.S. Political Science: An Introduction. 1(3th Edition) 2014

          Great job all!

          Let’s switch gears and talk about the Justices themselves. Some politicians claim that, in order for an appointed Justice to service, s/he should have the “norms and values” that the particular politician agrees with.

          So, whose “norms and social values” apply in the context of making, enforcing and/or interpreting laws? As an example, aren’t most people critical of “Hollywood norms and values” which seem to be out of touch with those of ordinary Americans? What about the norms and values of those who live in CA versus those who live in, say, TX? How should the Supreme Court decide which norms and values apply in interpreting Constitutional law?


          I found your post very interesting, and I would have to say I feel much of the same way regarding these two issues within our society today. To add to your discussion, those who want to do harm within our society will do all it takes in order to get their hands on the weapons they want. By placing laws that without our American rights to bear arms would not prevent these hanus crimes from happening. Take for example drug use, much of the drugs that are being used by addicts are illegal. These individuals want a substance bad enough that they go extensive routes to obtain it. Who is to say that this is any different than with guns and gun control. By allowing law abiding citizens to practice their second amendment rights it can help protect our society as a whole. It can take law enforcement an extensive amount of time in order to get to the scene of an incident, but with the right training and safety approach, those with permits can help to protect themselves and others when the situation may ensue. Yes times have changed since the creation of our constitution, but also so have the laws changing in order to mold around the ever changing society. In my opinion, this is the appropriate way to handle laws within our society as we change.

          Hi Marissa, Gordon, and Leigh!

          You all have posted great entries, and I have to say I agree with all of you.  The First and Second Amendments need to be protected…BOTTOM LINE! What will changing them accomplish?  Nothing, in my opinion.  Marissa, you make a great point with the drugs analogy.  If someone wants something bad enough, they will find a way to get it.   Whether that be alcohol during the prohibition, AK-47s by your local gang members, or cigarettes from the underage teen.  Ground rules need to be set though, and while the First Amendment allows for freedom of speech, it does not give someone that right to yell “fire” in a crowded room. So although the constitution and amendments are our rights, current and modern regulations should be set.  Yes I have guns, yes I love my rights to own my shotguns, rifles and pistols, but do I need to own an AK-47? No!  I have absolutely no reason to own a semi or fully automatic gun.  These type of guns should be left for our armed forces, military, and law enforcement.  “In 2008, the supreme court decided the District of Columbia v Heller, 5-4, overturning a handgun ban in the city. The conservative justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion in narrow but unprecedented terms: for the first time in the country’s history, the Supreme Court explicitly affirmed an individual’s right to keep a weapon at home for self-defense” (Yuhas, 2017).  As Gordon stated, we need “laws to counter modern stupidity aimed at the guilty, rather than limiting the rights of all in an attempt to improve a society of social corrosion” (Wertz, 2017).



          Wertz, Gordon (2017). Devry University. Retrieved from

          Yuhas, A. (2017, October 05). The right to bear arms: what does the second amendment really mean? Retrieved November 24, 2017, from

          Gordon, Marissa, Amber,

          Glad that all three of you read and agree with my opinion on these subjects. It’s refreshing.

          Gordon- I definitely agree with you that our Amendments or Bill of Rights should not be altered simply because certain people in our society are changing for the bad. On top of this, your mention of the Prohibition is a perfect example of how this kind of rule regulation does not work for the masses. Another example would be that drunk driving kills thousands of people but you don’t see the gov’t trying to ban the consumption of alcohol again the way they’re trying to control gun ownership.

          Marissa- I also enjoyed your post in regards to drug addicts and how individuals who want something will always get it somehow, some way. People aren’t just going to lie down and give up getting a firearm if that’s what they want and they have a goal in mind to hurt or kill people. And that is EXACTLY how I feel about conceal & carry licenses where those people were interested enough to go take a class on their own time and earn their right to carry a small gun on them if they choose to do so. This has proven to be beneficial in society where a bad person chooses to use a gun in a negative way and there is somebody in the crowd who can stop that assailant in the same manner he/she is attacking people (a gun) before more people are injured.

          Amber- I like your post as well. You stating that you are a gun owner is a swell example of how banning guns for people’s personal interests is not the answer. But like you said, there is no reason to own semi or fully automatic weapon unless you are in the military or part of law enforcement and are trained to use these weapons in a safe way. This should continue to be regulated as much as possible as there is no normal reason for a regular citizen to need a weapon of such caliber.

          I agree with you Leigh that the courts should support our First and Second Amendment. I also agree that when it was written, they didn’t and couldn’t see the problems that exist today. I fee with there should be gun laws along with the right to own them.  The current gun laws seem to be failing us. The rules are aimed at those with violent records and mental disturbances but reporting them and having them on a national database appears to be where the system is failing to some degree. It isn’t realistic to think we will be able to keep guns away from people that will misuse them but we can aim to decrease that number.

          As for freedom of speech, I’m all for that too but again with some regulation of our social media. The news media regulates itself, but social media has no rule. I don’t think it should be lawful for a group to place “fake news” (on a mass basis) on social media where it will disrupt elections or sway public opinion. I also don’t think a person should be targeted on social media or “bullied”. How many cases have there been of a teen being bullied on social media then committing suicide? That’s shouldn’t be protected under our First Amendment.

          I’m not sure what the answer is but there should be some safety measures for both of these Amendments.

          Hello Angelica,

          Your post brought up some interesting points on the Amendments. I too feel that US citizens have a right to bear arms but like you feel that stronger regulations should also be put into place. By putting into place safety measures then perhaps the violence seen on our streets today would be decreased. Gun control doesn’t mean no guns it just means putting restrictions on certain types of guns. Most things are a privilege for us so one must earn the privilege to bear arms. On the freedom of speech portion too many times you hear of teen age suicide due to cyber bullying. Many young people don’t understand the damage it causes when there’s something on social media about someone. With the increases in technology there should also be increases to the regulations to freedom of speech. I still think that people have a right to voice their opinion in a peaceful and safe manner.

          Thanks, A’lon


          Thanks for your response. I can agree with you that there is a missing link when it comes to gun laws and there being a more efficient system to keep track of individuals with violent records and mental disturbances to make sure that they don’t get their hands on a gun legally. Illegally is a different thing that we’ve all agreed can’t be 100% effectively monitored. Decreasing the number of violent, preventable crime should absolutely be the overarching goal.

          Also, your portion which focuses on freedom of speech and how that should work is something I relate to. Social media should be more heavily followed to make sure that there is no cyber bulling, as you said, and a lower number of social media related suicides should continue to be sought after. Our First Amendment is a right that should be honored as long as there is no intentional harm done to others and same with our Second Amendment, bottom line.

          These are very thought provoking questions. For me, I support no limitations on the first or second amendment. My belief simply comes from giving the government one toe over the line, of said amendments, allows them to take a foot and then a mile. Before we know it as citizens we will have lost our rights altogether.

          It seems with the First Amendment and specifically relating it to social media has changed the way the world is informed it a huge change. Everyone has the god given right to have an opinion. Where and who you choose to share this it up to you. With that said, so are the ramifications that come along with the opinion. People have been dismissed from their jobs for violating company policy by airing opinions on social media. If you are the person on the other end of the twitter and you take it at face value without looking for facts to justify it then you also must deal with the consequences. There is a cause and effect to every action we do, but I don’t feel we should have the government taking away rights to monitor what they “think” should be allowed.


          I think that the courts system should not support no limits on gun control or freedom of speech.  Certain guns should not be owed by owned by private citizens.  If this guns are in the hands of private citizens it just mean that the government or military with have to continue to develop more lethal weapons.  Its a vicious cycle.

          If people abuse their right for freedom of speech, they should be held accountable.  It statements incite riots or violence, the person should be held responsible.  There should be a limit to the maliciousness of speech.  If someone knowingly post slanderous and misleading information, they should be held accountable and not protected under the 2nd amendment.

          Hey Robyn,

          I could not have said it any better, the court should not support no limit on gun control and freedom of speech. The citizens sometimes do possess some lethal weapons even more dangerous than what the normal police have. This makes it hard to protect the citizens as they wield more power than the police. On the other hand, the people should b accountable for what they say. When you talk or speak bad you need to face the full force of the law. there needs to be a limit on what we can do or say. Good post


                 When i see that certain individuals are in favor of limits on gun control and freedom of speech i can see some of their reasoning and I do believe that they are coming from a good place. Unfortunately,  with the world that we live in today I believe that the only individuals to take these laws into consideration are law abiding citizens. The others that are planning to go to far with these situations are going to be the ones who could care less what the laws are. I just feel that nothing would really change except the people that do follow laws would be more susceptible to being harmed by those that never cared in the first place. So in a nutshell, I guess I do not agree.

          Students, as reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled in favor of a Brown University student who was suspended for two years for an alleged sexual assault. Judge Smith ruled that the student did not receive due process. This ruling came about despite tremendous political pressure for the judge to rule in favor of the University rather than the student. 

          Here’s the background:

          The judge found several defects in the procedures by which Brown tossed the student. For one thing, Brown told the student he would be judged under the 2014 student code of conduct, but then, without warning, switched to a new and harsher code that did not exist when his alleged offense occurred.

          In addition, Brown’s training of sexual assault investigators apparently caused them to deliberately overlook evidence with the potential to exonerate Doe, such as exculpatory text messages sent after the alleged assault.

          Throughout his ruling, the judge expressed his reluctance to intervene in a matter like this. He concluded, however, that Brown’s misconduct left him little choice.

          The judge also had some choice words for the Brown students who launched an email campaign attempting to pressure him into ruling against the male student. He wrote:

          After issuing the preliminary injunction this Court was deluged with emails resulting from an organized campaign to influence the outcome. These tactics, while perhaps appropriate and effective in influencing legislators or officials in the executive branch, have no place in the judicial process.

          This is basic civics, and one would think students and others affiliated with a prestigious Ivy League institution [Brown University] would know this.

          Moreover, having read a few of the emails, it is abundantly clear that the writers, while passionate, were woefully ignorant about the issues before the Court. Hopefully, they will read this decision and be educated.

          (Emphasis added).

          Clearly the judge was able to make his ruling based on the law, and not political pressure. Based on this, what do you think about judges receiving tenure based on their qualifications rather than being elected to their positions as with politicians?


          I think that it is in the best interest for our country that judges withhold office based on their qualifications, and not based on elections. The reasoning for this is very clear when looking at the above scenario. If a judge is elected into office based on politics, then politics then begin to play into their jurisdiction, instead of using the laws, regulations, and rights to decide a cases fate. Yes, may of the decisions that judges make tend to upset society, but it is important to remember that they are making decision that are lawful, and equal to every other citizen. That being said, if politics were to play a hand in decisions, then what is decided may not be lawful, or even legal. It could also be said that treatment could then be deemed unfair and unjust. This is because one individual way receive a more favorable outcome based on their political views, but if another individual committed the same crime, but differed in views from that other individual, their fate may end up being very different.


          I completely agree with you. I feel that the appointment of judges is much more fair that elected judges. Supreme Court justices are to make decisions based on the constitution and the laws of the land. As you said, the rulings may be unjust due simply to ones party affiliation. If we were to make their appointment political, I feel the legality of the court proceedings could be in jeopardy. Many would be pressured by their supporters who were trying to sway their ruling. I feel that our constitution is a great thing that we as American citizens are blessed with. We should all want our judges to strictly follow it.


          I am with you on the fact that if the judge is elected into office based on politics, that will be his focus. Whether this in moral or not is a whole other story. We should also bear in mind that the are held to higher standards but they are still human.

          I absolutely agree that judges should receive their tenure based on qualifications and not their political affiliations. It is highly likely that judges make better moral and legal decisions if they did not feel obligated to a particular party

      Professor Terwilliger,

      How should the Supreme Court decide which norms and values apply in interpreting Constitutional law?

      Ideally, justice would be blind to any prejudice. But, in reality, we all carry bias based on our life experiences and worldviews. Supreme Court Justices are no exception. Which is why they are grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, prior to a vote for confirmation, in an attempt to “divine” how the candidate will vote on key issues. The Senate committee’s line of questioning often is concerned more about the prospect’s political leanings, rather than their qualifications. Ultimately, there is no “correct” answer to this question, as the Constitution is written in general terms, leaving the courts to apply its principles to specific circumstances. The hope is that the justices interpret the intended meaning of the Constitution in order to ensure that the details of any situation remains consistent with the law (Constitution). However, there is some precedent to the Supreme Court’s process of interpreting the Constitution. Segall (2016) cites Judge David Strauss as saying, the Supreme Court follows a common law approach to constitutional decision making in which the Justices rely primarily on the Court’s prior decisions when deciding cases. He (Strauss) argues that constitutional text is usually irrelevant to constitutional outcomes decided by the Court. Most Supreme Court decisions follow precedent as part of judicial review. However, as we continually redefine what constitutes a “right”, the interpretation of the law must sometimes be redefined also.

      Thank You,



      Segall, E. (2016). The constitution means what the supreme court says

      it means. Harvard Law Review. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)


      We are both on the same page completely, I certainly do not feel that anyone is able to completely set aside all biases and personal opinions to make any type of informed decisions, I feel that personal opinions will always sneak its way in . I also am not sure if there can be a correct answer to this question.

      Hey Dana,

    That was such an interesting post full of knowledge and insight. I do agree with you on not changing the way the court is appointed. This is because these people have the most important role in the nation in enuring justice is served. therefore, the process that we have ensures that the right person is elected for the job. It may take some time foe the position to be filled but in order to ensure there is  credibility, time does not matter a lot. Great post

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