Government: The U.S. Constitution

The duty of the judiciary to test the constitutionality of the laws passed by the Congress is often interpreted as interference in the policy making role of the Congress. This is not supported by evidence.

United States is not a ‘government by judiciary’. The judicial branch is charged with the responsibility of construing the meaning of the laws of the USA. In addition, it is the duty of the judiciary to ensure that the laws enacted are in accordance with the constitution of the USA. When a law is not in accordance to the Constitution, the judiciary is required to declare the law unconstitutional (Williams. J, 2003). This is the role of the judicial system in USA.

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The laws of the United States are those enshrined in the Acts of Congress, administration regulations and the interpretations of statutes by the judiciary. The three branches of the government, which is the legislative, executive and judicial have been created so that the entire system of laws and regulations remains in equilibrium.

The Constitution gives the powers to the Congress to make laws in Washington D.C. , make rules and laws required for ruling the country. The Constitution gives the Congress the exclusive rights to make legislation. So we cannot say that the USA is a government by the judiciary. The restrictions on the government through the judiciary are in place to ensure that the government does not go beyond the powers that have been vested in it by the constitution. For instance, if the Federal government transgresses on the authority that has been vested in the State Governments by the Constitution, the judiciary may rule against the actions of the Government.  The executive branch of the federal government is headed by the President. He has vital legislative and judicial authority. He can pass executive orders and he can veto Congress legislation. If he commits high-crime he may be impeached by two-thirds majority of the Senate. So, the purpose of this restriction is that the President may not commit high-crime or any act that is forbidden by the Constitution.

The judiciary on the other hand is headed by the Supreme Court of the United States. It has the power to declare an executive action or legislation of the government unconstitutional, the purpose of this restriction to implement the provisions of Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution that puts some restrictions on congressional authority. The Supreme Court can annul a law and institute precedents for future decisions (Abraham. J, 1985). This restriction has been made so that several provisions of Article 1, can be implemented like the Congress may not pas bills of attainder or ex post facto laws, or bestow titles or nobility.   It is this function of the judiciary that mistakes people into thinking that the United States is a ‘government by the judiciary’. It should be remembered that only a very small percentage of laws are struck-down by the judiciary. In addition, if a federal judge commits a high crime he can be impeached by the U.S. House of Representative. Till now 13 federal judges have been impeached by the House. The purpose behind the restriction is to ensure that the judges remain honest and upright.

To sum, the United States is not a ‘government by the judiciary’. The government is jointly run by the three branches that is the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Each has a well-defined function and cannot transgress on the authority of any other branch. The purpose of the restrictions is to ensure that the government should not exceed the authority vested in it by the Constitution.


Abraham. J, (1985), Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court, Oxford University Press, New York.

Williams. J, (2003), The U.S. Constitution, Compass Point Books.


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Government: The U.S. Constitution. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from