UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


Thomas E. Baker


Supreme Court Justices, in their role as interpreters of the Constitution, have often determined public policy. Professor Baker, however, suggests that Congress should have a "veto" over Supreme Court decisions where the Court sets public policy contrary to congressional intent.

By using the process to amend the Constitution delineated in Article V, Congress and the state legislatures can overrule Supreme Court decisions. Through the use of a veto, Congress, and not the Supreme Court, would have the final say in the interpretation of a statute and ultimately in setting public policy.

Safeguards are already in place to ensure that this power would not be overused: the process of amending the Constitution is so difficult that of the thousands of proposed amendments over the past two hundred years, only twenty seven have succeeded.

This proposed "republican veto" would be consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers. Congress would use the veto to regain the power to set public policy, while the power of interpreting the Constitution would remain in the hands of the Supreme Court.