19 Pages

The Role of the Supreme Court in American Society

WithArchibald Cox

Part of the Supreme Court's docket is unusual only in its difficulty but the other part—much the more important part—is utterly unlike the usual flow of litigation through the State and lower federal courts. In any age of increasing regulatory measures a large part of the Court's work involves the protection of the individual against thoughtless, inept and occasionally oppressive government officials. The unique nature of the Court's work, more than any other characteristic, places its stamp upon the institution, creates the Court's own peculiar problems, and shapes its role in our national life. The growth of national markets and an integrated economy has shifted the ultimate responsibility for the balance of the federal system from the courts to the Congress. Both the pervasiveness of law in American society and the dependency of law upon consent are epitomized in the role of the Supreme Court of the United States.