Chapter 12: Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court is the highest
court in the land. Hearing cases from prisoners to presidents,
the Supreme Court has the final ruling in all cases involving
federal law. Chapter 12 deals with the operations of the Supreme
Court including the shaping of public policy and how the Court
selects, hears, and decides cases.
Section 1 introduces terms
such as writ of certiorari, per curiam opinion, brief, amicus
curiae, majority opinion, and dissenting opinion to illustrate
how the Supreme Court handles cases. More cases are appealed
to the Court than the justices have time to see. Therefore,
the justices choose the cases they hear based on the constitutional
issues these cases raise.
Section 2 explains how decisions
made by the Supreme Court influence public policy. The Supreme
Court is considered to be both a legal and a political institution
because of the effect its decisions have on public policy.
When the Court makes a decision about a piece of legislation,
it is determining public policy.
Section 3 deals with the
influences felt by the Court when making decisions. Supreme
Court justices must contend with influences such as their
personal views, social forces, and public attitudes. Since
the Court only hears cases that affect an important constitutional
issue, the justices must try to base their decisions on the
principles of law and not on outside influences.