Law Essay Example: Issue Fluidity in the Supreme Court

Published: 2019-07-18
Law Essay Example: Issue Fluidity in the Supreme Court
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Law Judicial system Justice
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2057 words
18 min read

Judges in the Supreme Court in the US often have had to disregard issues presented within the cases that have been brought before them in favor of dealing with policy concerns that have been brought forward in the instance of such cases. This has been referred to as the fluidity of the court with regards to issues that it considers to be of higher importance to the country, as opposed to the issues simply brought before them by the parties (McGuire and Palmer). This is especially with regards to dealing with areas of the law that are considered contentious and thereby require a higher standards of dealing with in order to come up with solutions that will outlast the cases themselves. Such approaches arise from the courts decision to either pursue an issue discovery approach, or an issue suppression. It is important to note that the two approaches to solving issues have completely different motivations, and have had similar outcomes. As such, this paper is much concerned with the process of finding issues in cases within the Supreme Court, and their approach to changing the well-known principles that have been applied in the course of the court history.

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Background Information

From the onset, it is important to note that the US Justice System has adopted some elements of common law such as the principle of stare decisis, which governs the majority of the courts in the US. As such, policy changes from existing legal precepts set up by the courts are abided by in the lower courts and courts of the same stature, maintaining that the legal principles in one state are similar to that of the state in question. Furthermore, the requirements of the application of the principle follow, in that the facts and issues presented in the case must be similar to those of the case where reference is being made (Ulmer). As such, the court is interested in applying the rule in similar cases and the application of similar legal provisions. As such, the issue of policy consideration is made in the course of applying this principle in the US courts (Ulmer). This is because the court needs to have sufficient reason and motivation from the public to consider some issues of public importance in order to change an existing policy matter that has been decided by a previous court. In general, courts are reluctant to overturn the decision of previous courts, as is the situation in the English jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the application of this principle in the US is not as stringent as in the UK, because the courts in the US are allowed to extrapolate and make policy considerations in the course of deciding their cases.

Some background in the making of policies in the course of deciding cases is that these principles are not cast on stone, and may be subject to changes in the future that are affected by changes in the societal norms and general views of the society on particular issues. For example, it could be noted that in the 1950s, the courts could award damages for injury caused as a result of smoking and this duty of care would be imposed on the manufacturing company. In contrast, this is not the situation that has been adopted in the 1990s moving forward (Segal and Reedy). The court has now instituted persona responsibility and liability to people who have found that they have been injured in the course of the use of substances harmful to their health. This was the case decided in Caesar Barber in 2002 (Stern, Gressman and Shapiro), where the lawsuit against a chain of fast food restaurants was struck out on the basis that the individual plaintiff had the capacity to decide for themselves whether they were capable of ensuring that they could restrain themselves from eating excessive amounts of fast foods and thereafter avoid his overweight condition. The court wouldnt consider his argument that the advertisements were so attractive as to cause him to lose his sense of control.

This case was similar to a number of other tort claims leveled against companies in the passage of time from the 1990s. A man would go on to sue the manufacturer of his lawnmower, when on one instance he decides to stick his hand in when the machine is running to remove blades of wet grass that had blocked it. The suit was considered before the Supreme Court. In another instance, a plaintiff fumbled over a coffee cup and went on to sue the coffee company. This was likened to fumbling upon a lottery ticket and winning the lottery, according to the plaintiff, they would be entitled to claiming from the lottery company. It is notable that there were over 800 private claims of such nature recorded by the year 1994, and only 2 such claims ever got awarded (Lamb). Nonetheless, the appeal stage saw the awards given in the first instance court overturned. With the ever-increasing number of frivolous and fictitious claims brought before court, the matter of issue fluidity has come to be considered by the courts as a form of moving away from the non-issues that may be presented by a claim and focusing on the issues of concern to the court and the overall country, for the better application of the stare decisis principle.

The mystery with which the Supreme Court decides issues is a matter of interest because of the peculiar way in which they choose to decide cases. It is important to note that the Supreme Court is not limited with the scope within which it may decide cases. Furthermore, issues that may not be directly related to the case in question may be decided, to the dismay of parties, where their issues are not directly dealt with. On the other hand, the court may use an approach where the comments given on a specific matter that the court finds of interest to it deal with the issues which the parties to that suit have presented in the course of their submissions. This brings in the issue of fluidity more clearly to the parties and to the area of US law. Because of the wide discretion of Supreme Court justices to deal with issues as they deem fit is an area of law that is considered to be quite mysterious yet known to the area of law.

As the justices extend the continuous process of policy making via the courts, there exists the likelihood that there are going to be disputes arising from the policy making process. This is because the changes in policy will often sit differently with different parties. Furthermore, bearing from the fact that the policy will be a change in the status quo, different parties will experience the changes differently to one party it will be beneficial while to the other it will be quite the obvious. As such, it is important to differentiate the different parties in the policy making process and noting that it is possible that both effects be present in the case of making new policy. Furthermore, the selection of issues in the Supreme Court is based on a number of factors that are both judicial and extrajudicial. Such reasons include the need to expand or contract on the reasons of deciding on policy. As such, the justices are usually more interested in separating issues from cases, and dealing with the issues, especially those of public concern. Issues in this case are the legal predispositions, casual facts and societal facts that may influence the decisions in a case. Because of this approach, the court may find difficulty in having an overall acceptance of the decisions that have been decided in such an instance as the public view on a matter cannot be said to be streamline at any given moment, unless such a matter is a grund norm. Nonetheless, even matters considered to be grund norms are still under contestation. An example of such a matter include the right to life and the arguments for phenomena such as abortion and euthanasia.

The Supreme Court is considered as a forum of sorting out issues in law that have direct effect to society rather than providing solutions to individual cases. Perry (1991) makes note that the justices comments on the issue is that the threshold of having a case heard in the court is on the merits of the issues in question in the appeal rather than settling the individual disputes of the parties. Nonetheless, this doesnt mean that the individual claims of the parties are not valid before the court, but move on towards a higher purpose in solving policy issues. As such, policy issues that provide a contentious edge have been dealt with by the court (Perry). The choice for one to end their lives by giving the caring doctor consent to do so has been an issue that has come for consideration before the Supreme Court as the matter of a person to decide when their lives should end.

Rights and Issue Fluidity

The issue of rights and issue fluidity has been one of major concerns, especially after the 1980s, in the case of a psychic woman who was awarded $1 million because she lost her psychic ability in the course of a C.AT. Scan. This became an interesting case consideration in the course of action as the court. The other instance of interest was that in Haimes V Temple University Hospital and Hart. In this instance, the court awarded damages for medical malpractice where the doctor had decided to use dye on a patient as a medicine after the patient had warned him that she would have allergic reactions to that drug. Afterwards, the patient suffered severe allergic reactions to the medicine after the doctor had insisted and the patient relented. The court saw these as valid reasons for granting damages while the other instance was reconsidered upon appeal. The fluidity of the court justice opinions have been attributed to the consideration of oral judges of each other on important matters of the law that are being considered in the case in question (Ringmouth).

Rights are considered under tort law for the purposes of ensuring that there are sufficient addressing of individual rights balanced with the due process of the courts. Some of the issues that have come before the Supreme Court touching on the rights of the individual have been very crucial in the determination of issues. Many such issues have created new policy with regards to those areas of the law. For example, the case of Texas V Johnson was one of the landmark cases in the Texan Supreme Court. The issue before the court in this instance involved the interpretation of the First Amendment rights of the individual in Texas. The legal position in Texan law was that it was illegal to desecrate objects of the government of the United States. The defendant had been engaging in peaceful demonstrations in the state during which the flag of the United States was burned. The defendant was convicted on first instance for this crime, but this appeal came before the ninth circuit justices for decision. Among the issues that the court deliberated on was the freedom of the person and expression as provided for in the First Amendment, and the limitation if any, that is imposed on this. In the deciding of issues in this case, the court tackled larger issues of public concern including the rights of the individual to express themselves and the limitations that the law placed on such rights.

The court decided in favor of the defendant, that he was within his rights of expression. Furthermore, the court decided on certain issues of concern including the constitutionality of the Texan law preventing certain forms of expression among American peoples. This made the law to be struck off the instruments of the state and any other similar law was also struck down. In addition, the court decided on other issues of concern such as the limitations of the right to make consideration of public opinion in the course of deciding similar cases where law barred something that was an essential part of the expression of the person. This was the justification for the application of strict rules in other instances such as the cases of New York Times V U...

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