Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
United States Supreme Court
Daniel R. Williams
Of the three branches of government, the judicial branch, as embodied in the United States Supreme Court, remains unmatched in the awe that it inspires, the controversies that it provokes, and the mystique that it cultivates. “The representative system of government has been adopted in several states of Europe,” French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville once remarked, “but I am unaware that any nation of the globe has hitherto organized a judicial power in the same manner as the Americans…. A more imposing judicial power was never constituted by any people.” It is that image—“imposing judicial power”—sharply engraved in the collective American psyche, that sets the United States Supreme Court apart from all other institutions in Western democracies. On one level, the Supreme Court is a rather easy institution to understand; it is a court of law dedicated to resolving controversies through the fair application of legal doctrines and principles. ...