Judicial supremacy

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Judicial supremacy is the view that the judiciary, and in particular federal courts, have special authority in constitutional interpretation that makes the judiciary superior superior to the other branches of government. Under judicial supremacy, the branches of government are not co-equal. Instead, under judicial supremacy, courts are above checks and balances by other branches of government.

Numerous American statesmen have rejected judicial supremacy, including Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Also, Alexander Hamilton completely rejected judicial supremacy in Federalist No. 78.

Judicial supremacy was most clearly asserted by the Warren Court in Cooper v. Aaron (1958).

The better, and more traditional, view is that the U.S. Constitution itself is the supreme law of the land, and that three branches of the federal government (Legislative, Executive, Judiciary) are equally responsible for upholding the Constitution and for applying checks and balances against usurpation in power by a rival branch.

In 2007, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court in criticizing and rejection the temptation for courts to exercise "judicial supremacy."[1]


  1. United Haulers Ass'n, Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Auth.