Reply To: Judicial Review


Any court in considering how to apply a given statute must of course consider constitutional objections to it, whether they are raised by a party or the court comes to have questions unaided. As Presidents Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln all expressly noted–Jefferson in connection with the Sedition Acts (which federal courts had happily and energetically enforced, before Jefferson pardoned all of the convicts and refunded them their money), Jackson in his Bank Bill Veto Message (in which he contradicted McCulloch v. Maryland), and Lincoln in connection with Dred Scott, presidents must of course decide for themselves what the Constitution means, and they will from time to time treat it as having a different meaning from what a federal court, even the Supreme Court, has said. States too.

The Supreme Court’s precedents are to be followed by other federal courts, which the Constitution calls “inferior [to the Supreme Court] courts.” Sometimes they undertake to correct the Supreme Court, which the Court typically doesn’t receive well. States too. All of these officials are sworn to uphold the US Constitution, not to uphold opinions of the US Supreme Court–as Jackson said in the aforementioned veto message.