It has been talked about much lately that the likely President elect of the United States (at the time of this writing) has expressed the desire to overturn certain Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rulings.

What legal means does the President of the United States (POTUS) actually have available, if any, to overturn SCOTUS rulings? And what are the checks and balances, if any, against those actions?

  • 2
    Worth noting that originally the Suprene Court couldn't do judicial review, so they didn't have the ability to make rulings as we know them today. Thus the checks and balances for the judicial branch are not as firmly described in the Constitution as those for the other branches. – Thunderforge Nov 10 '16 at 3:18
  • This is going to take me more than a day to answer. It would be better if you could narrow in on a specific case. Is there a ruling you have in mind.? – K Dog Nov 10 '16 at 3:54
  • @KDog IIRC, few SCOTUS rulings have ever been overturned, so I'm not sure how to go about framing it more specifically. – user10258 Nov 10 '16 at 3:56
  • what does IIRC mean? – K Dog Nov 10 '16 at 4:00
  • @KDog If I recall correctly. – user10258 Nov 10 '16 at 4:03

There are several ways.

1) Get Congress to change the law.

2) Convince the public that the issue is not a federal issue, but rather something that people should deal with personally or locally.

3) Re-litigate the issues, especially after appointing new Justice(s). As of 2016, there is a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

4) Re-litigate the issues, after getting Congress to restrict the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.

5) Follow the procedures to amend the Constitution.

6) Emulate Andrew Jackson's actions leading to the Trail of Tears. "Justice Marshall has made his decision: Now let him enforce it."

Options 1-5 are intentional parts of the system of "checks and balances". Option 6 risks defunding (by Congress), nullification (by states), impeachment, losing elections, assassination, and/or civil war.

|improve this answer|||||
  • What can POTUS do to initiate re-litigation? – user10258 Nov 10 '16 at 3:55
  • Regarding number 6, none of them came to pass for Andrew Jackson. What were the actual implications for a committed President standing up to the Judiciary. – K Dog Nov 10 '16 at 3:58
  • 1
    @CreationEdge - The President can initiate re-litigation by either committing an action that he knows will cause someone to sue, or by having the Justice Department sue someone. – Jasper Nov 10 '16 at 3:58
  • 1
    @CreationEdge It would be more accurate to say that one of the president's powers is to order the Justice Department to sue someone (or charge someone with a crime). Raising the relevant legal point would have to happen naturally in the suit. This is more of an effective or implicit power. – Brythan Nov 10 '16 at 4:41
  • 1
    It's probably noteworthy that there is currently a vacant seat. – user9389 Nov 10 '16 at 5:15

You must log in to answer this question.