“The Supreme Court as an Agent of Social Change”

“TheSupreme Court as an Agent of Social Change”


“TheSupreme Court as an agent of social change”

A cautiousvaluation of the history and depiction of the judicial process inAmerica discloses that the Supreme Court has played a noteworthy partin progressing the country. However, the court has also played aninhibiting role in some progresses thus, acting as a barrier toadvancement mostly because of its fixation with the methodicalelements of constitutional law and the concern to defend thepredominant legal system. In fact, some people have raised concernson the courts ability to reform government powers, solving regionalland, and introduction of regional planning. On the other hand,Finkelman (2014) contends that the court has taken a collective partas an instrument of social change especially in cases involvinguniversal health care, abortion, and integration of schools. Althoughopponents of the court’s role in social change claim that Americansact as the instruments of social change rather than the court, thecourt has played a key role as an instrument of socialtransformation. As such, the discourse provides a valuation on thedecisions of the Supreme Court as well as factors shaping its role asthe agent of social change.

Some landmarkdecisions or verdict by the Supreme Court reveal the courts enhancedrole as an instrument of social transformation. Decisions such asthose in “Brown v. Board of Education” (concerningcultural discrimination in schools), “Roe v. Wade”(concerning abortion), and “Lawrence v. Texas” (relatingto homosexuality) show the role the court has played in socialadvancement. Such verdicts reveal some of the roles the court hasplayed in offering a progressing society to Americans. However,opponents of the court as an instrument of social change claim thatpeople hold the mantle as the representatives of socialtransformation, but people have tried to offer social change in termsof school integration and respect of the LGBT community and failed inpart. On the other hand, Finkelman (2014) maintains that people seethe court as a democratic initiative because of the political aspectof nomination of judges to the Supreme Court, but they fail torecognize the landmark verdicts the court has made. In fact, much ofthe disapproval has centered on the court’s authority to annul,negate, or adjust legislatures passed by the House of Representative,which ultimately destabilize the efficacy and power of democraticprocess.

Anleu (2009)asserts that the Supreme Court does not have a constrained authorityas does other government institutions or courts thus, it has theability to develop appropriate policies that benefit people even ifthey go against government policies. In fact, the Supreme Court hasbecome an effective instrument of transformation, as it is properlynearby to all citizens. However, the Supreme Court has acted as afoundation of social transformation in a limited manner since not allverdicts it has passed have ever deviated from political acceptance.Despite this shortcoming, verdicts on homosexuality, segregation inschools, women rights, and abortion demonstrate that the court is anagent of social change. Anleu (2009) says that the shortcoming of thecourt in advancing social transformation in its entirety comes inenforcement and not court decisions. In fact, the court has troublein ensuring that bureaucratic enterprises obey court orders.

Other thanpassing verdicts that sound right to the people, the Supreme Courthas developed widespread moral ideologies in the face of politicalpragmatism practiced by other arms of the government. In thisregards, the court has acted as an education body with the educationit has offered throughout the years acting as moral code with thepotential to establish and invigorate democratic forces toward socialchange. On the other hand, the Supreme Court’s litigation andsettlement processes have stimulated social transformation andstirred a polity and its populace to greater moral and politicalambitions as in the case of “Roe v. Wade”. The SupremeCourt verdict legalizing abortion equipped right-to-life advocatesthus, it is citizens becoming too ignorant of the court rather thanthe role of the court that refuses the court off its role. In fact,the court has sustained a “community of thoughts” as well aschecked and balanced the interest-based alignment of politics asusual.

Asaforementioned, the political aspect of nomination in the SupremeCourt depicts the court as a democratic enterprise, but verdicts onsome cases concerning social issues demonstrate the courtssignificant role as an instrument of social change. Cases such as“Brown v. Board of Education” and “Lawrence v.Texas” demonstrate how the court can override laws executed bylegislatures to create way for social transformation. In most ofthese cases, the court created criticism since a large section of thepeople supported these legislatures, but the verdict revealed thecourt’s authority to make essential changes to social cohesion.Although other factors such as public interests and perception,personal stand of specific judges, prevailing laws, and interest ofthe government determine the verdict of the court, the Supreme Courtcontinues to act as an instrument of social change across America.


Anleu, S. L. R. (2009).&nbspLaw and social change. SagePublications.

Finkelman, P. (2014).&nbspThe Supreme Court: Controversies,Cases, and Characters from John Jay to John Roberts [4Volumes]:&nbspControversies, Cases, andCharacters from John Jay to John Roberts. ABC – CLIO