The government of the USA has three branches, namely, legislative, executive and judicial branch. The legislative branch is responsible for making the laws. The executive branch enforces the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws. The legislative branch of the government consists of the Congress and the US Congress has two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress has the power to decide on who and what to tax and how to use tax money. These decisions are made in the Legislative branch.
The legislative branch, composed of the Senate and the House, has extensive power, given by the Constitution. It is the only branch which can create new laws or change the existing laws. Thus, when the legislative branch passes a bill, the President must sign the bill to make it a law. Hence, the responsibility of the legislative branch is highly crucial for not only proposing a bill, but also evaluating the potential impact of the bill on the people and the economy in an extensive manner so that the law is beneficial for majority of the population in short as well as in long run. According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the enlisted powers of the legislative branch of the government are borrowing money, power to design and impose tax, regulating commerce with the foreign countries and also among the states, establishing rules regarding various aspects of granting citizenship to foreigners, establishing post office, raising and maintaining army and navy and declaring war in case of emergencies. As per the Clause 18 of the above section of the Constitution, the legislative branch of the government has the power to make all the laws that are necessary and appropriate and to implement the enumerated powers of those laws for the benefit of the nation and the economy. The clause ‘necessary and proper’ is also known as ‘elastic clause’. It enables the legislative branch remain flexible and adaptive and adjust to the continuously changing circumstances in the economy and society with time. This branch of the government also has the power to create annual budget. Under this power, the legislative branch can decide the revenue and expenditures of the federal government by designing proper tax rates and tariffs. The senate and the house can also investigate any wrongdoings within the government.
The US Supreme Court is the highest court under the federal judiciary of the USA. It acts under the judicial branch of the government. The legislative branch does not have the power to overrule the judicial branch and the Supreme Court and they can revise the laws for getting the approval from the judicial branch. The US President however has some power to ignore any judicial verdict, that is, verdict by the Supreme Court. The US President is the head of the federal government, head of state, Commander-In-Chief of the US Armed Forces and thus, head of the Executive branch of the US government. Being the head of the federal government and states, the president has many powers by the constitution and he can overrule the verdict of Supreme Court in case of any emergency.
There have been instances of US Presidents defying the verdicts of the Supreme Court. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt were known for their decisions to defy the verdicts of the Supreme Court during their presidency. During the Napoleonic Wars, Thomas Jefferson took the decision to impose an embargo on all the foreign countries enacted by the US Congress against France and Great Britain, as the warring countries were taking extensive advantage of the American ships and the seamen. This rule is known as the Embargo Act of 1807. The Supreme Court gave the verdict that the embargo was unconstitutional but Jefferson defied the decision of the Supreme Court and continued with the embargo.
Abraham Lincoln defied the Supreme Court during the civil war. President Lincoln defied a judicial verdict by the Chief Justice Taney in the case that involved the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by Lincoln during the early days of the civil war. The case is referred to as Ex parte Merrymen. Lincoln had suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under the suspension clause of the US constitution at the time when the Congress was in recess. However, Chief Justice Taney ordered that the suspension of the writ by the President is unconstitutional and by doing so the President had disregarded the great and fundamental laws of the nation. It was released as a verdict by the Supreme Court. However, Lincoln and his administration did not comply with the verdict given by Taney and maintained the suspension of the writ in the Merrymen case. This has become one of the most well known cases in the US history in which the President defied the Supreme Court.
President Franklin Roosevelt also followed non-compliance policy with the Supreme Court in 1937, which is known as the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. President Roosevelt wanted to add new justices in the judiciary procedures of the Supreme Court in order to get favourable rulings for the New Deal legislation. However, the Supreme Court declared that the President’s purpose and addition of new favourable rulings were unconstitutional and the court struck down various New Deal measures during the first term of Roosevelt on the ground that those were unconstitutional. He recruited new judges to implement new rules, which was also criticized by the judiciary. In his second term, President Roosevelt took measures to reorganize the federal judiciary of the US government. In 1937, he proposed to add new justice whenever a justice reached the age of 70 and did not retire. Although Chief Justice Hughes defied the President, his initiative of the judiciary reform failed but in due course of time, he was successful in establishing a favourable court for his New Deal legislation by defying the Supreme Court.
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