Can Congress Overturn the Supreme Court Decision? Understanding the Government Branches Roles 

The US constitution makes the Supreme Court the highest court in the land. Its decision is final, and other courts and bodies must follow them. 

The primary role of the Supreme Court is to interpret laws for the people. Like the Supreme Court, Congress is a branch of the US government. 

Congress represents the American citizens and is responsible for formulating or making laws. This article will find more information about the powers vested in different US government branches. 

You will also learn more about the relationship between the different government branches. Therefore let’s begin by answering the commonly asked question. 

Can Congress Overturn the Supreme Court Decision?

No, according to the US constitutional law the Congress cannot overturn the decision made by this court. The judicial head branch has an absolute say in constitutional interpretation. 

Congress, however, has the power to propose constitutional amendments. The amendment can only happen if it gets support from two-thirds of the state legislatures. 

If the constitutional amendment gets ratified, then it might have some influence on the Supreme Court decision. 

If the Supreme Court interprets the federal constitutional law, Congress can change it. It can actualize this through the President’s signature. 

Alternatively, it can be through an overridden veto, making the Supreme Court decision non-binding and irrelevant. 

Overall, you need to know that Congress can’t overturn the Supreme Court decision. Congress can only amend the law if the decision is on existing law. 

However, the decision made will still be valid. If the decision is about a constitutional interpretation, Congress can only change it by amending the US constitution. The process of amending the constitution is challenging. 

The Functions Of The Congress

The federal government has three main branches, and Congress is the one that performs legislative duties. It represents the majority of American citizens and formulates laws. 

It equally shares power with other government branches; the judicial, which has the Supreme Court, and the executive, led by the President. 

Congress is the only branch with members elected directly by United States citizens. Here are the main functions of the US congress according to the American constitution.

  • It approves any appointments made by the President, such as judges, etc. 
  • It makes laws 
  • It raises public money through taxes, etc. and oversees its spending
  • It has powers to declare war
  • Impeach the President and other federal officers. 
  • Approve treaties. 

The Judicial Branch

The people of America haven’t unanimously agreed on the power this branch should possess. Theirs is no election for federal judges since all are usually appointed. 

Part of the Americans believes that the American government will be fairer if judges get more power. 

They argue that judges won’t have to worry about reelection and other outside pressures and thus will serve the country well. However, because the citizens are the majority, it doesn’t mean they are right. 

The constitution’s founders had a reason why the judiciary official could only assume office through appointment. It offers equality, justice, and freedom, thus balancing the different government branches. 

The Power Of The Courts

The primary function of the federal courts is in the interpretation of the constitution. The American federal courts possess the power to rule that government actions or specific laws are against the constitution. 

Therefore it creates a lawful society and hugely shapes public policy. Today in America, the federal judges have surprisingly declared more than 100 federal laws unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can also overrule itself. 

The Popular Supreme Court Decisions That Have faced Overturning

The Baker vs. Nelson Case (1972)

The first homosexual case by the highest American Court was in 1972. The two brought their case to Minnesota Supreme Court; they wanted constitutional rights to marry. 

However, the court did not consider the case. The judicial branch has undoubtedly taken more than 40 years to accept same-sex marriage, and that’s in 2015. 

The 14th constitutional amendment protects same-sex marriage. Since then, the rainbow colors have been popular in America in honor of same-sex marriage. 

The Adler vs. Board of Education Case (1952)

New york city did create various laws in the 1950s; the laws were forcing public officials to confirm and offer total loyalty to the US. The officials were not to have any affiliations with the communist party. 

The New York state was on the news headlines; it enacted an unfair law. According to the law, schools were free to fire any teacher that had affiliations with subversive organizations. 

It made the teachers’ board sue New York City. The teachers’ case finally made its way to the highest court, and the court was in harmony with this firing law. In the 1960s, the archaic laws by the New York state were still in existence. 

During this time, professor Harry Keyishian was the victim of the laws. He was working in a private university merging with a particular state university. 

For Harry to retain his job, he had to take a loyalty oath, but he refused. After his dismissal, he took the case to the highest court; and it ruled that the New York City laws were vague and unconstitutional. 

After this ruling, all fired teachers in the 1950s went back to court and sued for their jobs; they won.

The Bowers vs. Hardwick case (1986) 

It was a very controversial case, and then the Supreme Court decided to uphold a law that did not support anal or oral sex. In 1986, a police officer saw Hardwick and another man engaging in oral sex and arrested them. 

The state decided to stay out of the case by not prosecuting. The American Civil Liberties Union decided to test how constitutional the anti-sodomy laws were. 

Therefore it took over the case and pushed it to the highest court. The homophobia issue in America made the court uphold that law. 

Most people argued that homosexuality was abominable and not a traditional act. According to them, the constitution wasn’t in support of this act. 

However, this law covered homosexuals and heterosexuals, but people were not happy with its nature. 

Later in 2003, after 20 years, the court agreed did reject the anti-sodomy law and said the decision made then was incorrect.

Appealing The Supreme Court Decision 

Is It Appropriate To Appeal Supreme Court Decision?

Appealing a decision made by the Supreme Court is quite expensive. Therefore you need to think about it before making the decision


The cost is substantial; however, appealing a court decision isn’t that necessary. However, you can consider it debt or property division. 


Overall you need to know that Congress cannot overturn the decision made by the Supreme Court. Congress can only change the law, and changing the law is not similar to overturning Supreme Court’s decisions. 

The Congress and the Supreme Court have distinct functions, but they hugely rely on each other. The primary function of the judiciary, which the Supreme Court heads, is interpreting the laws to the public. Congress is responsible for making and passing laws. 

Therefore the are certain unique boundaries between these two bodies that allow each to efficiently and effectively exercise its powers.

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!


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