Rules of Law
To the Editor:
May I amplify Dan Seligman’s excellent review of Mark R. Levin’s Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America [Books in Review, June]? The problem of “activism” by the Supreme Court is due in large part to the bipartisan cowardice of Congress. The framers of the Constitution were aware of the risks of a runaway Supreme Court and gave Congress the authority to override it and even to curtail its powers.
Thus, the Constitution gives Congress the right to limit the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction; to appropriate funds for the judicial branch; to confirm (by vote of the Senate) the President’s judicial nominees; to define the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts; to impeach, try, and remove delinquent Justices; and to decide how many Justices there shall be.
These powers, wrote Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist, were “a complete security” against the danger of “judiciary encroachments on the legislative authority.” If Congress were to exercise them, there would be no need for a constitutional amendment providing a legislative veto over Supreme Court decisions, as has been proposed by Mark Levin and others.