Appropriate relationship between the legislature and the courts
The American government as a democratic government functions under the guidance of three government arms. The role of each arm of government is clearly spelt under the doctrine of power separation that sought to offer clear guidelines to allow the smooth and effective execution of government affairs. Bernas (1997) however claims that there are several government departments within these separate arms of government that have overlapping roles and that one certain issues it is hard to decide which arm the jurisdiction of such a controversial issue falls. However, it is argued that the founders of the nation sought to ensure the independence of all branches to ensure their supremacy in dealing with their particular spheres. However, it is necessary to note therefore that the functions of these arms of governments must adhere strictly to the constitution raising the question of who should be charged with the responsibility of enforcing those provisions.
There are those who feel that oversight over government branches should be left to the masses. However, such a claim becomes rather untenable since there are no clear mechanisms to identify breach of constitution since most people lack the technical expertise to interpret the constitution. Furthermore, even when such a breach might be on the public domain there are no mechanisms for the public to stop legislation or the enforcement of the same. There fore, it becomes necessary to allow the court since it has been charged with matters pertaining to the administration of justice and the upholding of the constitution. The court has the technical and legal mandate to interpret the constitution and therefore has the moral authority to rule on matters regarding the constitutionality of matters pertaining to changes or issues related to the constitution (Coxe, 2005).
Opponents of the judicial power of review would seem to be lost in the fallacious belief that the authority of the judiciary to review legislations enacted by congress and senate as an interference of the role of the legislature. It can be argued if the status of other countries like the U K that bars courts from reviewing primary bills was to be taken into consideration that indeed the judiciary might have exceeded its jurisdiction. However, it is necessary and the constitution clearly stipulates that any law that is contrary to the constitution is null and void. Therefore, it is simply logical that the judiciary in exercising its role of constitutional interpretation make rulings on the constitutionality of bills passed by the legislative wing of government. This is because law makers might if no oversight exists make laws that are in their favor even if they are in contravention of the constitution. This is possible since the constitution might be subject to misinterpretation and due to its impartial nature, the judiciary can be trusted to enforce the provisions of constitution against the partisan interests of politicians.
The status quo has not always been so since the various arms of government did not infringe on the operations of the other. The courts oversight on the constitutionality of legislations emanated from the ruling of the case, William Marbury v. James Madison, secretary of state of the United States. The court had ruled that Marbury’s petition to the court under the judicial act of 1789 to compel the secretary of sate to deliver his commissioning document was unconstitutional (Marshal, 1803). However, it is clear that since the three branches serve as one government, they cannot function without relating and providing oversight to each other. This creates accountability and checks against power abuse which might disadvantage the very people they are sworn in to serve. The legislator serves as an oversight against the executive and so the court must serve as and oversight on the legislature.
Bernas, J. (1997). Constitutional structure and powers of Government. Manila: Rex books.
Coxe, B. (2005). An essay on judicial power and unconstitutional legislation 2005. Da carpo press.
Marshal, C. J. (1803). William Marbury V. James Madison, Secretary Of State Of The United States . Retrieved 1 May 2009, from http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/marbury.HTML.