Checks and Balances: Judicial Review

answer questions by watching judiciary independence video:

The United States Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. This power gives the judiciary the power to rule that an act of congress and an executive order is unconstitutional. Without judicial review all acts of the president and congress would be legal.

Prior to Marbury v Madison the United States Supreme Court did not have the power of judicial review. In fact, democracy does not require judicial review. Other democratic government do not give the judiciary the authority to rule that a law is unconstitutional. Below you will find a description of the role of the judiciary in the government structures of the United Kingdom, Canada, and South Africa.

United Kingdom

Established in 2009 The supreme court in the United Kingdom has limited authority. The court can determine whether a law was incorrectly applied in a particular case, but cannot strike down laws.


Canada’s Supreme Court may strike down laws violating Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Parliament or the legislative assembly of a province, may enforce a law despite a court ruling.

South Africa

South Africa’s Constitutional Court is tasked with defending the integrity of the national constitution, overseeing laws in provinces, and ensuring inclusion of international human rights law.

1.What if Marbury v Madison was never decided and the judiciary did not have the power of judicial review. How would this change the United States?

2. Would you be in favor of such a change? If so why? If not why not?

3.Some opponents of judicial review have proposed a constitutional amendment, which would allow Congress to have the power to override a Supreme Court ruling by a two-thirds vote of both houses, much as it is able to override a presidential veto. Would you be in favor of such as change? If so why? If not then why not?

4. Reflect on the documentary Judicial Independence and answer the following question.How do the Worcester v Georgia and Brown v Board demonstrate the need for judicial review.



Sample Solution

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