Ted Stewart, author of Supreme Power: 7 Pivotal Supreme Court Decisions That Had a Major Impact on America
How important has the Supreme Court been, historically, in curbing the power of the executive branch?
The short answer is that it has not. To the contrary, Supreme Court decisions have validated a vastly expanded executive branch power over the lives of the American people. Court decisions have permitted the president and Congress to rely on Constitutional provisions to justify innumerable laws and regulations, which allows our government in Washington to dictate matters as diverse as how many acres of grain a farmer can grow, to what we can eat or drink, to who we can hire and fire.
Which of the 7 pivotal Supreme Court decisions has had the most influence over our lives today?
Marbury v. Madison – because that decision gave birth to the power of judicial review, which the Supreme Court relied upon in deciding the six other cases. In second place would be Wickard v. Filburn. That decision essentially rewrote the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to vest immense power in the federal government. The Commerce Clause is the source of almost all of the laws and regulations that affect the everyday lives of American citizens.
What is one question you would ask a nominee to the Supreme Court?
In deciding cases, will you be guided by your personal philosophy or political views, or will you feel bound by the words and intentions of those who wrote the original Constitution?
What is the biggest misconception the public has about the Supreme Court?
I think that the average American would be most surprised by the process for Supreme Court decision-making: the brief time for argument before the Justices; the fact that the nine members of the Court rarely discuss the case after the initial conference, and never as a group.