Explain the doctrine of judicial review under USA constitution.

(1) Introduction to Doctrine Of Judicial Review:

The basic philosophy, which works behind doctrine of judicial review, is that court possesses jurisdiction to review of other two branches of government. Through such jurisdiction, constitutional court can declare legislative and executive acts as constitutional or unconstitutional.

(2) Composition of Supreme Court Of U.S.A.

Following points are important for explanation of composition of Supreme Court of U.S.A.

  • (i) Chief Justice & Associates Justices
  • (ii) Number of Associate Justices
  • (iii) Nomination of justices
  • (iv) Appointment of justices
  • (v) Tenure of office
  • (vi) Salary

(i) Chief Justice & Associate Justices

Supreme Court of United States of America consists of Chief Justice and Associate Justices

(ii) Number Of Associate Justices

Number of Associate Justice is fixed by Congress. Currently there are eight Associate Justices.

(iii) Nomination Of Justices

President of United States of America possesses power to nominate justices of Supreme Court of United States of America.

(iv) Appointment Of Justices

Justices of Supreme Court of United States of America are appointed with advice and consent of Senate.

(v) Tenure Of Office

Constitution states that all justices are to hold their offices during good behavior. It reveals that appointments of justices end only when a justice dies in office, resigns or is impeached by the United States House of Representatives and convicted at trial by the Senate.

(vi) Salary

Salary of Chief Justice is set by Congress. American Constitution prohibits Congress from lowering salary of any judge including that of Chief Justice during their continuance in office.

(3) Functions Of Supreme Court United States Of America

Supreme Court has two fundamental functions. On the one hand, it is to interpret and expound all congressional enactments brought before it in proper cases. On the other hand, Supreme Court is to examine federal and state statutes and executive actions to determine whether they conform to American Constitution or not.

(4) Doctrine Of Judicial Review In American Constitution:

American Constitution had not provided American Supreme Court power of judicial review. With the passage of time, American Supreme Court has itself assumed this power to review not only all federal and state legislatives acts, but also executive acts. It can be opined that power of judicial review was not initially constitutional power in American Constitution. But now it is a constitutional power due to constitutional convention. Importance of this power can be mentioned through following two points:

  • (i) Exercise of power of judicial review
  • (ii) Benefits of judicial review

(i) Exercise Of Power Of Judicial Review:

Through exercise of its jurisdiction under power of judicial review, American Supreme Court checks unconstitutional laws of federation or states and unconstitutional executive acts:

  • (a) Judicial review of federal laws
  • (b) Judicial review of state laws
  • (c) Judicial review of executive acts

(a) Judicial Review Of Federal Laws:

American Supreme Court possesses power to review constitutionality of laws of federal legislature. The reality is that Supreme Court can nullify any unconstitutional law of federal legislature.

(b) Judicial Review Of State Legislative Acts:

American Supreme Court possesses power to review constitutionality of laws of state legislatures. The reality is that Supreme Court can nullify any unconstitutional law of state legislatures.

(c) Judicial Review Of Executive Acts:

American Supreme Court possesses power to review acts of executive. The reality is that Supreme Court can declare any order of executive void if the same is found against law or constitution of the country.

(ii) Benefits Of Judicial Review:

Followings are main benefits of judicial review:

  • (a) Defense of American Constitution
  • (b) Maintenance of human rights
  • (c) Check & balance

(a) Defense Of American Constitution:

It is through judicial review that American Supreme Court secures American Constitution against unconstitutional legislation or amendments. Under power of judicial review, American Supreme Court reviews whether an act of American Congress is constitutional or unconstitutional. And if an act is found unconstitutional, the same is declared null and void.

(b) Maintenance Of Human Rights:

It is through judicial review that American Supreme Court maintains human rights against arbitrary acts of executive. Under power of judicial review, American Supreme Court checks such executive acts, which can damage human rights.

(c) Checks & Balances:

United States of America is such a state where powers have been separated, on the one hand, between federation and states and, on the other hand, among three branches of federal government. In such political set up, only check and balance can maintain separation of powers. This task is accomplished by American Supreme Court through exercise of its jurisdiction under judicial review.

(5) Conclusion:

To conclude, it can be stated that criticism against doctrine of judicial review is that it has made American Supreme Court third legislative chamber out of American Congress. However, the reality is that it is judicial review, which has saved American Constitution from unconstitutional legislation or amendments, and has checked American legislature and executive from misusing their powers.

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