More than ever, the Supreme Court of the United States can rely on an army of life-tenured judges on lower federal courts to implement the doctrines it develops on statutory and constitutional issues. Those judges are shielded from public opinion on controversial rulings, and recent research has shown that the Supreme Court itself is more likely to be affected by elite opinion than that of the public.
Despite checks and balances being a centerpiece of the constitutional order, the increasing size and jurisdictional scope of the federal judiciary, combined with its lack of political accountability, has led to a increase in the centralization of judicial power in the Supreme Court. However, Congress has the power to limit or even abolish the lower federal courts and thereby leave the implementation of Supreme Court doctrines to the state courts, which are more accountable to public opinion. This Essay examines several separate areas of research to evaluate the probable effects of such an exercise of Congress’s powers, and to what extent the empowerment of state courts can fragment the ability of the Supreme Court to centralize its own power.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ryan_walters/1/