The Politics of Judicial Supremacy: Congress, the Supreme Court, and Standing to Sue
Seth W. Greenfest
College of Saint Benedict (CSB) and Saint John's University (SJU)
APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper
American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting
The Supreme Court of the United States frequently makes claims of judicial supremacy, moments in which it claims that its interpretation of the Constitution is the final word. One area of law in which claims of judicial supremacy have become more frequent is standing, or questions of whether potential litigants are proper parties to bring a case. Over time, the Court has explicitly used Article III of the Constitution and broader separation-of-powers concerns as rationales for (not) granting standing. In this process, the Court insulates judicial doctrines from legislative input, making it more difficult (but not impossible) for legislators to put forth their own visions of what the Constitution allows. Judicial claims of supremacy may be taken at face value -- we can accept these claims, that is, without really questioning what makes such claims possible or successful. In contrast, this paper explores the politics of judicial supremacy, using data on Supreme Court standing decisions as well as an original dataset of Public Laws that confer standing (from 1921 - 2012). This paper reveals the give and take surrounding judicial claims of supremacy and demonstrates that the success of such claims depends in part on how other political actors respond.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Date posted: August 12, 2013