State and Federal Courts

State and federal courts impact public policy in many ways, and it is important to consider this as someone who aspires to be a leader in the field. Think for a moment about an argument by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78:

and it proves, in the last place, that as liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments; that as all the effects of such a union must ensue from a dependence of the former on the latter, notwithstanding a nominal and apparent separation; that as, from the natural feebleness of the judiciary, it is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-ordinate branches.

Against the backdrop of Federalist No. 78, consider the impact of the High Court on public policy from two landmark cases: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954). In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided that the concept of “separate but equal” fell within the realm of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Fifty-eight years later, in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the High Court overturned its earlier decision based on the premise that separate was inherently unequal. The Brown decision is a landmark Supreme Court case. It ended segregation in schools and public places and set the Civil Rights Movement into motion.

The question still remains: In the creation of public policy, do we really have nothing to fear from the judiciary, as Hamilton suggests?

For this Discussion, find and cite your choice of two recent articles from the Lexis Nexis Academic or LegalTrac databases at the Library. Then, select one of the recent Supreme Court decisions identified below, or one with which you are familiar, that has impacted or is impacting state or local public policies.

  • Kelo v. City of New London
  • Roper v. Simmons
  • Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores
  • Obergefell v. Hodges

Post the identity of the case you selected and describe the decision in the case. Then, explain how the decision affected or continues to affect public policy. Compare how the issues in the decision were addressed in the federal court or the state court. Include an explanation of the reach of the federal government versus the state’s reach regarding this particular issue.

Be sure to support your postings with specific references to the Learning Resources and the two recent articles from the Lexis Nexis Academic or LegalTrac databases at the Library