Viewpoint: Pay attention to Supreme Court cases

Greg DeVries | Editor in chief
Greg DeVries | Editor in chief
By Greg DeVries

Nowadays, it seems like everybody hates the government. Congress’ approval rating is now at just 13 percent according to the latest Gallup poll and the president has taken heat from both the press and the American people regarding an alarming number of scandals.

The executive and legislative branches get all of the hate, but there is a third branch that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

It doesn’t take a political science major to know that I am referring to the judicial branch. While words like “Congress” and “Senate” now seem to have negative connotations, the judicial branch, and more specifically the Supreme Court, fly largely under the radar for the amount of power that it has.

Perhaps it is because the Supreme Court justices aren’t elected by the public like their legislative counterparts, but people should pay more attention to the court that determines the supreme law of the land.

A new Gallup poll suggests that 66 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the size and power of the federal government. This certainly isn’t going to be fixed by the federal government, but the Supreme Court does have a powerful say in how the federal government operates. That’s why you should pay attention to what it’s doing.

Knowing about the history of the Supreme Court, how it operates and what it’s doing will help you know what changes are really being made to this country.

While Congress experiences things such as gridlock, annoying filibusters and bills that even the authors don’t read, the Supreme Court is busy determining how this country will move forward.

In fact, the court will soon rule on some pretty big cases that any informed voter will want to take note of. Pending cases will determine the constitutionality of the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the future of affirmative action, the constitutionality of limits on aggregate campaign contributions and many more.

Once these rulings come down from the bench, life will be forever altered unless you somehow avoid anything related to health insurance, don’t apply for a job and abstain from voting. It’s almost as if the Supreme Court is the voice of the founding fathers and the law.

Once the court strikes a law down, it’s almost as if the founding fathers themselves look upon government and say, “Nice try, but you’re not getting away with that.”

The jury is still out on the people’s opinion of the Supreme Court, however. The most recent numbers from Gallup suggest that just 45 percent of the country approves of the job that the Supreme Court is doing while 46 percent disapproves. Despite these numbers, 62 percent of Americans place either a great deal of trust or a fair amount of trust in the Supreme Court, which is quite the paradox.

This probably has something to do with the fact that the Supreme Court doesn’t let lobbyists have an impact on its work. This removes doubt from the American people and the other branches of government should take note. If you want the trust, respect and endorsement of the American people, then listen to the American people.

It almost seems as if the Supreme Court is the government branch that is looking out for the citizens of the United States more so than Congress, which is ironic considering the fact that we elect our Congressmen. But in an era where these congressmen bow to lobbyists instead of constituents, the Supreme Court is the people’s only hope for justice.
An oppressive government relies on an uninformed electorate. Keeping up with Supreme Court rulings will help citizens know which congressmen propose ideas that are unconstitutional. Eventually, we can elect a Congress that we actually approve of.

Greg DeVries is a senior journalism major from Houston. He is the editor-in-chief for The Lariat.