Corporate Accountability

Congressional Power Again in Supreme Court’s Sights

By John Gramlich, CQ Roll Call


The Supreme Court opened a new term Monday that so far lacks the blockbuster cases that marked its last session, when the justices struck down the heart of two landmark social laws — the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — that received overwhelmingly bipartisan backing in Congress.


The court’s new term, however, still provides plenty of opportunities for the justices to either circumscribe or reinforce congressional authority, including in ways that will divide the political parties.



“This term presents the court with a large number of opportunities to cut back on statutes passed by Congress and limit Congress’ power itself,” said Doug Kendall, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center. “Anyone caring about Congress’ ability to fix national problems should be closely watching what the Supreme Court is up to.”


Kendall added that the current political paralysis in Congress — exemplified by the first government shutdown in 17 years — raises the stakes at the Supreme Court.


“Historically, Congress has been much more active and aggressive in overturning statutory rulings by the Supreme Court,” he said. “It has, by and large, stopp[ed] overturning Supreme Court rulings, which allows the court to encroach significantly on congressional power.”…