With the establishment of judicial review in 1803 by Marberry vs. Madison, the Supreme Court became the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. Constitutional matters, such as whether the Second Amendment affirms the right to possess firearms to the individual or to some militia, ultimately wind their way to the Supreme Court where the meaning of the Constitution’s provisions is voted on and decided. This can take years.
The Court, however, is not infallible. Sometimes the Court reverses itself. The recent Kelo decision, for instance, begs for reversal. And some Court decisions are stains on American history, such as Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Dred Scot decision. So the Supremes are quite capable of error. Also, the Court can be intimidated, as happened under FDR with his attempts to pack the Court.
Despite their human frailties, justices are appointed for life. Only one Supreme Court justice has been impeached, Samuel Chase in 1804. The Senate acquitted Chase in 1805. Federal judges also rule on questions of constitutionality, and they, too, are appointed for life. Since 1789, the Senate has tried 14 impeached federal judges and removed six. This includes former federal judge Alcee Hastings, who was found guilty of corruption and perjury, and removed from office in 1989. (Since 1993, Mr. Hastings has served as the U.S. Representative from Florida’s 23rd district.)
On the elective side of government, many citizens are beginning to see the virtue of “citizen legislatures,” like the Founders intended. Many now favor term limits. Folks are beginning to look askance at professional politicians (i.e., those who made the mess). Even if America were to see higher turnovers in elective offices, Supreme Court justices will still have lifetime tenure. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. set the age record at 90. More recently, John Paul Stevens hit 89. Federal Judge Wesley E. Brown still sits on a U.S. District Court at 103. Obviously, the federal judiciary is immune to senility.
The Supreme Court may be the final interpreter of the Constitution, but the creators of the Constitution were, and still are, the several states. The states ratified the Constitution and the states continue to ratify amendments to the Constitution. Indeed, the states created the central government of which the Supreme Court is a part.
There is an escalating tension between the states and that same central government the states created. The federal government has overstepped the limitations placed on it by the Tenth Amendment. The feds have usurped rights reserved to the states and the People. This has been going on for a century. The feds have dumped tons of mandates on the states. The feds “justify” their power grabs by invoking the Commerce Clause, warping and stretching the meaning of that tiny clause beyond all reason.