You will be able to describe the role that law plays in democratic societies after you've read this chapter.
Discuss the role of Congress in establishing the judiciary.
Explain how federalism works in the dual court system.
The institutional rules and political influences that shape the Supreme Court are outlined.
What's at stake.
Keeping that narrative going is aided by the marble pillars, red velvet drapes, and black robes.
The Supreme Court is political.
The case made Alexander Hamilton spin in his grave.
Hamilton assumed that the judgments would remain legal even though he had the power of neither the sword nor the purse.
Without military might or budgetary power, the Supreme Court decided who would be the next president of the United States, and it was done right down the party lines.
On a five to four vote, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Florida Supreme Court to allow a recount of votes in the Florida election and awarded electoral victory to Bush.
The presidential vote in Florida was virtually tied, recounts were required by law in some locations, and voting issues in other counties left untold numbers of votes uncounted.
Whether those votes should be counted or not was a question of opinion.
Al Gore wanted the recount so he could get the few hundred votes he needed for victory.
Bush did not.
The vote counting was ordered by the Florida secretary of state, who is Bush's brother.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a recount should go forward.
Bush asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Florida Supreme Court's decision and to stay or suspend the recount pending its decision.
The stay was issued by a divided court.
In the order for the stay, there was a noticeable split between the justices, which reappeared in the final decision.
The majority claimed that if the recount went forward under the Florida Supreme Court's order with different standards for counting the vote in different counties, it would amount to a denial of equal protection of the laws.
The amount of work needed to conduct a fair recount was not done before the December 12 deadline.
The Florida court's order was illegal in the first place according to a three-person subset of the majority.
The Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore ended the state recount after the 2000 presidential election was too close to call.
The dissenters argued that the December 12 deadline was not fixed and that the recount could have taken place up to the meeting of the Electoral College on December 18.
The loser of the election is perfectly clear.
Everyone debated the issue from angry demonstrators outside the Court to learned commentators in scholarly journals, from families at the dinner table to editorial writers in the nation's press.
At any speed that takes your fancy, you careen down the road in your car.
You park where you please and go to the drugstore that sells drugs of all sorts, from Prozac to booze and beer.
No one asks you for proof of your age or for a prescription, and there are no restrictions on what or how much you buy.
You hope the dealer will accept what you have to offer in trade because there are no rules governing the production or usage of currency.
Life is looking good as you head back out to the street, but you find that your car is gone.
You curse yourself for forgetting to set the car alarm and for not using the wheel lock, because theft is not illegal.
Tracking down your car is almost impossible since there are no vehicle registration laws to prove you own it in the first place.
Rather than walking, you should look for a car to get you home.
You have to wrestle with the person who is trying to get you to drive away.
It isn't much of a prize, covered with dents and nicks from clashing with other cars at intersection where there are neither stop signs nor lights.
When you arrive home to enjoy your beer in peace and to gain a respite from the war zone you call your local community, you find that another family has moved in while you were shopping.
Laws do us more good than harm, such as not being able to buy beer if we are under twenty-one, or not being able to speed down an empty highway, and we often rail against them.
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes both imagined a world without laws.
Locke's residents had to mount a constant defense of their possessions and lives because they found the lawless life to be inconvenient.
Locke and Hobbes believed that people would be willing to give up their freedom in order to gain security, order, and predictability in life.
We forget the full array of laws that make it possible for us to live together in relative peace and to leave behind if we focus on the laws that stop us from doing the things we want to do.
In a democracy, the rule is ultimately made by citizen-made law and not by a tyrant.
Laws are the "how" in politics as "who gets what, and how."
They dictate how our lives are to be organized, what rights we can claim, what principles we should live by, and how we can use the system to get what we want.
Laws can be used by citizens and political actors to create new rules that produce more favorable outcomes for themselves.