The Supreme Court’s historic impact on American politics


The Supreme Court is the United States’ highest federal court, consisting of nine justices appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The court’s role is to interpret the Constitution, resolve legal disputes between the states or between individuals and the federal government, and maintain the rule of law. Throughout American history, the Supreme Court has had a significant impact on the country’s politics, shaping the meaning of its founding documents and defining the limits of government power.

The Birth of Judicial Review

One of the Supreme Court’s most significant contributions to American politics was the concept of judicial review. In 1803, in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall established the court’s power to review the constitutionality of federal laws and executive actions. This power gave the court the ability to declare laws unconstitutional if they violated the Constitution’s provisions, making it a crucial check on the other two branches of government.

The Supreme Court and Civil Rights

Throughout American history, the Supreme Court has been at the forefront of some of the most significant civil rights decisions in the country. In the mid-1900s, the court struck down segregation laws in Brown v. Board of Education, ending the “separate but equal” doctrine that had been used to justify racial discrimination in public schools. The court also played a significant role in the civil rights movement, ruling on cases that challenged discriminatory practices such as voting restrictions, housing discrimination, and workplace discrimination.

The court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 also had a significant impact on American politics. The case established a woman’s right to choose an abortion in certain circumstances, giving women more control over their reproductive health. Since then, the issue of abortion has been a divisive political issue, with pro-choice and pro-life advocates clashing over the Supreme Court’s role in shaping abortion laws.

The Supreme Court and Presidential Elections

The Supreme Court has also played a prominent role in presidential elections, particularly in cases where the results of the election have been disputed or contested. One of the most significant cases involving a presidential election was Bush v. Gore in 2000. The case centered on the contested Florida vote count, with the Supreme Court ultimately ruling in favour of George W. Bush, effectively deciding the outcome of the election.

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More recently, the Supreme Court has weighed in on issues related to voting rights and voter suppression. In 2013, the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which required several states with a history of discriminatory voting practices to seek federal approval before changing their voting laws. The decision was controversial, with some arguing that it opened the door to increased voter suppression.

The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage

In 2015, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. The decision was a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community, which had long fought for the right to marry. The ruling also had far-reaching political implications, as opponents of same-sex marriage continued to push back against the court’s decision.

More recently, the Supreme Court has weighed in on several cases involving LGBTQ+ rights, including a case in 2020 that centered on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act included protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. The court ultimately ruled that it did, further expanding protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace.


The Supreme Court has had a significant impact on American politics throughout its history. From establishing the concept of judicial review to shaping civil rights laws and weighing in on controversial political issues, the court has played a crucial role in shaping the country’s legal and political landscape. As the court continues to grapple with issues related to voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and other politically charged topics, its decisions will continue to shape American politics for years to come.


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