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Article III - Supreme Court:

Bureaucracy/Public Administration:

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR/PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION- ARE, the terms preferred to describe the "bureaucratic process and those individuals who carry it out" by (some) political scientists. 

CHIEF EXECUTIVE- IS, the role of the President that is like that of a CEO of a major corporation. Overseeing the work of the Government and the employees (bureaucrats) that carry this process out.

CABINET- IS, the group of "appointed" confidants (confirmed by the Senate), underneath the president that head up the various division of the bureaucracy.  Also, know as the Senior Executive Level.

STREET LEVEL BUREAUCRAT- IS an individual administering the business of government that you and I are most likely to come in contact with. Such as, a police officer, case worker, road worker. . . dog catcher, etc.

PATRONAGE- IS, rewarding individuals with government jobs for their support in an election. 

BLUE BLOOD PATRONAGE (1788-1828)-  WAS, a system of staffing government based on who one knew as well as there standing in the community (you had to be "somebody" to be given a position in the new government).

SPOILS PATRONAGE (THE SPOILS SYSTEM - 1828-1883)- WAS, patronage "gone mad." Came in with Andrew Jackson's Common Man Platform, it's the idea that anybody could be a member of government leaving the only qualification to employment as "who you know."

PENDELTON ACT (CIVIL SERVICE REFORM ACT 1883)- IS, the act that changed the spoils system of pure patronage to one that used MERIT to "hire" (rather than appoint) the bulk of the members under the Senior Executive Level.

MERIT- IS, "What you know." Hiring on merit is based on one's education, experience, and scores on various "Civil Service Exams."

"THE IRON TRIANGLE-" IS, the term used to describe the the inaccessible relationship between business interest groups (BIGs), the legislature, and the corresponding regulatory agencies, by the common citizen. See ELITISM.

ELITISM: IS, the theory that the direction government takes, or problems that is solves, is determined by the few individuals who have acquired -or control- large amounts of scarce resources.

PLURALISM: IS, the theory that the direction government takes, or problems that it solves, is determined by "groups." (See CITIZEN INTEREST GROUPS)

CITIZEN INTEREST GROUPS (CIGs)-  ARE, the groups that formed out of necessity to counter the strong arm control of the BIGs over resources.  Such as; a labor union, environmental organization, consumer advocacy group. 

WHISTLE BLOWER- IS, a government employee who exposes corruption or gross inefficiency in the department they work in. Often costing that individual their job and potentially ruining their career. 


Supreme Court-  


Chapter 15, is the final chapter of the text, and reviews the final component of the "Policy Process:" that of the "formal" evaluators, or our Judicial Branch.  The structure of the Judicial Branch really isn't outlined in the Constitution.  As such, this branch is the most mysterious and least understood of the branches, yet the job of the Court is really straight forward: protect the rights of the citizens by settling disputes fairly and equitably while applying the rules of the Constitution (and duly passed laws) to actions of the society and government.  Because they will ultimately decide whether a policy is just or not, we call them the "formal" evaluators within the Policy Process.  Much like it's a fact that we all identify problems (called input), we, too all evaluate policies aimed at solving these problems (called feedback).  It is the Justices that must carry out the process by applying the meaning of the Constitution (Judicial Review, remember?) to see if the "rules" have or haven't been broken.  AND, should the justices see a problem, they have the power to stop that "bad' policy that is being implemented.    Do note, however, that the role of the Judiciary in being the evaluator, is one that is reactive rather than proactive. In other words, the Courts have to be asked to evaluate a policy that is actually being implemented before they are entitled to do so -they cannot simply tell the legislature they can't pass a law because the Court believes it "unconstitutional." [reference the "Line Item Veto"] 

Like the similarities of the state and federal legislatures, and the similarities of the state and federal executive branches, there is similarity between the state courts and the federal courts.  BUT, unlike the legislatures, and executive branches, the federal court is directly connected to the actions of the state courts.  There is ALWAYS the potential that the federal court will overrule any decision made by a state court. . . even a state's Supreme Court.  In actuality, a state's Supreme Court is just another appeals court in the process of seeking justice. See Below:


Because of the Supremacy Clause (the Constitutional clause that allows the federal government authority in disputes between states and the federal government), Implied Powers, and Judicial Review, the Supreme Court wields almost totally unfettered power.  In our system of checks and balances, who checks the power of the Supreme Court once the justices have been appointed to the bench?  Well, a justice can be impeached, believe it or not, much like the president - but the real cross branch "check" on the power of the Judiciary, is the fact that the Court does need help in the enforcement of its laws.  Enforcement or "implementation" of a ruling, of course, primarily falls upon the Executive Branch.  Take for instance Jackson's attitude towards Marshall's ruling in Corn Tassel v. Georgia (he did nothing, and despite Marshall's decision, Corn Tassel was hanged), or the integration of schools following Brown v. Board of Education (it wasn't the judges that nationalized the Alabama State Guard, it was the President). 

Still, to not enforce a ruling of the Supreme Court today would "de-legitimize" every other ruling the Court has made.  By necessity, for societies sake as we know it, the Court's rulings must be enforced.  Take Gore's response to the US Supreme Court's ruling about the Florida recount.  He didn't like the decision, but the alternative to not backing down -to call upon his supports to resist- would be no less than a revolution, and certain chaos.  So the Courts have really become a powerhouse when called upon (and today when aren't they) in shaping the policy of our country.  

The Supreme Court, since it really is the FINAL SAY in all court cases (State and Federal).  As was made clear in the diagram above, the Supreme Court doesn't have to hear any case (agreeing to hear a case is called "granting a Cert" -short for Writ of Certiorari, meaning "to make more certain") that they are petitioned to hear.  Chances are they won't!  Of the hundreds of thousands of cases initiated every year (both in federal as well as state court) only about 7,000 will make their way all the way up to the level of the Supreme Court (though each has the potential to), and from those 7,000, only about 100 will be granted the Cert. [Note: Via a Constitutional mandate, some cases start with the Supreme Court (where the Court has Original Jurisdiction) such as disputes between states, or cases involving foreign dignitariesSo, how do the Justices decide which cases will be heard? Well, no one really knows for sure as the Justices do this behind closed doors in secret.  Many speculate (based on good information) that there is "horse trading" that goes on.  One judge will agree to hear a case that deals with interests of one judge if that judge will do the same in kind.  And, once FOUR judges agree to hear a case the Cert is offered (this is called the 'Rule of Four').

Once the Cert is granted one of three outcomes will be the result. See Below:



The, upon hearing the arguments, could uphold the decision of the last court to rule on the case - thereby reaffirming their decision (refusing grant a Writ is a "De Facto Affirmation" of a lower court's decision. 


The, upon hearing the arguments, could overturn the last, or all, lower court's decision, thereby ruling in favor of an individual who had all but lost the case.  (This type of ruling usually gets the press)


The, upon hearing the arguments, could send it back to the lower court to be retried or reconsidered - with the contingent that the courts add something (or take something out) when the try the case again.

In making their evaluation, the Court can render it's decision in one of two fashions, Judicial Activism(Interpreting the law not by the letter of the law, or pass practice of the law, but by an interpretation of what the law "should" do) or Judicial Restraint/Strict Constructionism (Reading the law as it is specifically written -Thereby allowing the legislature to change the law if they determine the need coupled with the  avoidance of new precedent).

The practice of JUDICIAL ACTIVISM has allowed the courts to basically legislate from the bench (which would be an unconstitutional encroachment across branches, if the judiciary every truly "evaluated" itself) and to - among other things - stretch the interpretation of privacy, equal protection, and the 4th Amendment (via Judicial Review) to allow for abortion.  Or to stretch their interpretations of the 2nd Amendment rights to limit what we consider as "Arms" (Bazookas...NO, Pea Shooter...OK).  This drives true Conservatives batty!  They are much more apt to support the practice of STRICT CONSTRUCTIONISM  &/or JUDICIAL RESTRAINT.

Though laws may be conservatively read or liberally interpreted, there is still the question of where does the "fundamental law" of which all state and federal laws are measured by, come from? The Constitution. . . Right? Sure.  But then the question is, "where did the laws drafted into Constitution come from? I mean the Constitution wasn't simply found under some rock in New York, is had to have it roots somewhere else - what were the Founding Fathers using as their template?  Well, there were State Constitutions, BUT WHAT WERE THEY BASED ONThe answer is English Common Law.  You may have heard the term "Common Law Marriage" (which we don't have in Michigan by the way, so if you're shacking up -no matter how long- to be ligit you need the license) which is a throwback to times gone by.  Unlike the US (which had a chance to start fresh and establish a Constitution following their winning of independence from their "unitary oppressors")  England's law has been built over time via precedent and codification.  It really began with William the Conqueror (though some dispute this) in 1066.  William united the tribes and clans of England bringing them under one rule.  Yet, as we know, when different cultures come together they don't always gel.  AND, if you take into consideration that people under one rule are to be following the same laws -the confusion begins with "who's laws do you follow?" To clarify this, when a dispute would arise between cultures, a judge would be dispensed by the capitol to hear the arguments and arbitrate a settlement.  It was this settlement that would become the "common" law of the land. As the law of the land, this precedent was codified into the law books and used as a strict reference when the same (or similar) argument arose somewhere else in the empire.  Since then, England has been adding and altering the laws that have been established over the last 1000 years give or take.  We (the US) still defer to English Common Law if we have no law governing a unique dispute (though this is becoming extremely rare).

HEY, that's it!  Once you've studied these notes - you're ready to take MAJOR TEST 2.  MAJOR TESTS 1 & 2 will get you prepared for the FINAL EXAM.  GOOD LUCK!!

Oh yeah, if you need further information regarding Chapter 15, is a link to the publisher's resources. 


But be sure to read the chapter and not simply rely on this summary (it leaves too much out).

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Last modified date: 05/19/15 
2001 Kellogg Community College