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Docket Digest - February 24, 2021

Docket Digest - February 24, 2021
Good Afternoon,
This week’s Digest dives into what Judicial Review is, the case that caused its establishment, and a spotlight on Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.
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Without further ado… All rise.

#LearnTheLaw - What is Judicial Review?
Defined: A legal phrase for what we all know Judges do: look a law, a policy, an act, a piece of legislation, etc., and assess whether it is or is not constitutional. This seems like such a deeply established concept that it’s hard to imagine that nowhere in the constitution does it say that judges have this power!
So where does this idea come from?
This comes from the landmark 1803 decision, Marbury v. Madison. In 1789, Congress passed the Judiciary Act, which in part, allows a person to bring their case straight to the Supreme Court of the United States (generally not allowed with few exceptions) if you were seeking a “writ of mandamus” (which is basically when you’re asking a higher court to tell a lower court to perform their duties). 
Marbury uses the Judiciary Act to bring his writ of mandamus to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court says that actually, the Judiciary Act is unconstitutional. The court says that the constitution already explicitly mentions the circumstances in which a person could bring their case straight to the Supreme Court and Congress can’t just add another method. 
Marbury says hold on, Court: who says that you’re allowed to say whether this act is unconstitutional? The court said while it hasn’t been explicitly said before, #1 we’ve been saying things are and are not unconstitutional for a long time now so it would be silly to stop now, and #2 there are many provisions in the constitution (i.e. The Vesting Clause, Arising Under Clause, Supremacy Clause, Oath Clause) that lead us to believe strongly that that’s our job. 
So while we all know that this is what courts do, it was in fact made the law more than 200 years ago. This may seem uneventful now given how settled this idea is, but it’s important to note that this remains the single most important decision in American constitutional law and at the time was considered an “epic” and “genius” decision.
Read More About Marbury v. Madison👇
Docket Digest 📁⚖️
#LearnTheLaw - Marbury v. Madison - 1803 #SCOTUS Landmark Decision 👇
#SCOTUSSpotlight - Clarence Thomas
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Supreme Court Justices have lifetime tenure and Justice Thomas is the longest sitting member of the Court, serving for 29 years. In his young years in Savannah, Georgia, his father left, his family struggled financially, and a fire left him, his sister, and his mother homeless. The three of them moved in with his maternal grandparents where he became the first black student admitted to St. John Vianney to become a priest. After many years of pursuing becoming a priest, he was disappointed with the Catholic Church’s passive stance on Civil Rights so he decided to change paths to a legal career focused on Civil Rights. After graduating from the College of the Holy Cross, he attended Yale Law School. Clarence Thomas had a noteworthy yet brief career on the Court of Appeals before Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court. Before he could be officially appointed, Senate hearings took place regarding sexual harassment claims against him. Thomas rigorously denied all allegations and in October 1991 he was confirmed by the senate and appointed as a Supreme Court Justice by the narrowest margin in a century. As the second African American to serve on the court, Justice Thomas is known for his conservative approach. By conservative, we mean that he reads the constitution as it is: he looks at the words and makes his decisions based on that alone. This is in comparison to other justices who will read the constitution and interpret the words into modern-day context. Justice Thomas’s votes consistently reflect a small government stance. He has voted consistently for outcomes that promote state autonomy by restricting the federal government’s control on the states. While Thomas’s conservative approach has seldom been the majority of the court, and therefore, not the law, with more conservative justices added to the court in the last couple of years, (making conservative Justices the majority in comparison to the liberal Justices), we may start seeing more law that reflects Thomas’s conservative approach. 
Thank you for reading!
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