The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and as such, has a very important roll within one of the three branches of the federal government.
It also has very specific duties, which are clearly defined in our Constitution.
As commentator Daniel Horowitz points out, these duties are called original jurisdiction.
This original jurisdiction is spelled out in Article III, Section 2, Clause 1, which states, “The judicial Power [of the supreme Court] shall extend to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; – to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; – to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; – to Controversies between two or more States. …”
Original jurisdiction is the authority to hear a case first, rather than be second, third or fourth in line.
But that’s it. Just four things. In all other cases, it has appellate, or secondary jurisdiction, which means that they can either choose to hear the case, or not. Often the Supreme Court opts against hearing a case that has been decided in a lower court, effectively allowing the lower court decision to stand. And that’s basically the end of it.
But what it must not do is refuse to hear a case between parties that are part of its four constitutionally mandated powers.
The Supreme Court can’t just decide to hear a case because it wants to. A case must either be brought before it through the appeal process, or must fall within the Constitution guidelines of “original jurisdiction.”
Unfortunately for us the citizens of the United States, the high court doesn’t always do its constitutional duty. Much like the other two branches, they freely relinquish or ignore their constitutionally mandated authority.
Horowitz cites a recent dispute between the states of Arizona and California. The case was brought before SCOTUS, and despite the fact that the Constitution clearly states, “to all cases” of controversy “between two or more States …” (emphasis added), the justices denied it.
Justice Thomas, joined only by Justice Alito, dissented, by correctly stating that the Constitution makes it mandatory that they hear this dispute between the two States.
Thomas further explains that, “if this Court does not exercise jurisdiction over a controversy between two States, then the complaining State has no judicial forum in which to seek relief.”
The Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, has hung the state of Arizona out to dry.
Somehow the Supreme Court allows individual district judges to illegally issue nationwide injunctions without repercussion, but it refuses a case which is clearly mandated they hear.
Horowitz adds: “Well, indeed, the modus operandi of the federal courts these days is to ‘usurp what is not given’ to them, while declining to exercise ‘the jurisdiction which is given.'”
Despite President Trump’s best efforts, the federal courts remain what they’ve been, a dysfunctional body filled with political activists and a mere smattering of constitutionalists.
Perhaps Trump’s next four years will bear more originalist, constitutionalist fruit.