I believe that the most powerful branch of the federal government is the judicial branch. Their responsibility is to provide interpretations to the constitutions and statutes that are up for dispute. These judges’ decisions are referred to as case law.
One example is with the U.S. Constitution forbidding the government from imposing “cruel and unusual punishments” on individuals who violate criminal laws. Although there are no specific guidelines as to what punishments are not allowed, that’s when the judicial branch steps in to decide which punishment would considered “cruel and unusual”. Another example is with statutes, because they help judges to shape laws. Since each state has its own legislature to write laws, these judges help interpret the statutes when the purposes are not clear.
In the video he mentioned that out of 11,000 amendment change requests, only 27 actually took effect. Some of those included freedom of religion, press and right to bear arms. There are some people who say the constitution should and does change with society and it is known as a living document, those individuals are living constitutionalist while others, known as originalist think it is a dead document and that the only way to interpret the constitution is to find out what the framers intended the provision to mean.
One of the most important and best laid out government designs in the United States is judicial review as part of the checks and balances system. When the founding fathers wrote the Constitution, it is evident that they acknowledged a potential power struggle between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. To help establish boundaries for each branch and their respective powers the founding fathers created a system where no single branch necessarily holds or wields more power than the other two. However, in my opinion, I believe that the judicial branch of government stands just a foot ahead of the other branches.
I tend to lean towards the judicial branch of government being the most powerful due to the fact that this is the branch that interprets the laws and hands down sentences to include life and death. To have the power to decide if someone should live or die is in my opinion, the ultimate power. According to The National Registry of Exonerations which is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law, thirty-five people; including one woman between 2010 and 2017 have been exonerated for crimes in which they were sentenced and served time for. My belief is that persons who are found guilty of a crime should in fact serve time for their choices. However, in cases where the punishment could lead to a life or death sentence, should we not be 100% positive that we in fact have the correct person in custody and facing the charges?
Www.prisonpolicy.org reports that as of March 14, 2018 2.3 million people are locked up in more that 6,000 correctional facilities operated by thousands of agencies in the United States. There are another 840,000 people on parole and a staggering 3.7 million people on probation. That total comes to 6,840,000 96 million people. According to www.deathpenalty.org as of July 2017, since 1973, more than 155 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. (Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil & Constitutional Rights, 1993, with updates by DPIC). From 1973-1999, there was an average of 3 exonerations per year. From 2000-2011, there was an average of 5 exonerations per year. In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992). Www.time.com collected research to show that out of 100 people sentenced to death, 4 are likely innocent but only 2 have been exonerated. While that number may seem small to some in comparison to those that truly are guilty; what if it was your father/mother, brother/sister, husband/wife, son/daughter that was included in the 2 not exonerated? For me, that is 2 to many. With these kinds of numbers and the amount of people involved it seems to me that the judicial branch of the government has an extremely large impact on society.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I look forward to reading yours.