For many years, the United States Congress has exercised its powers to investigate controversial topics, including foreign policy, presidential power and federal spending. Often, Congress has used its legal authority to compel other authorities to provide information, as members carry out their necessary and proper power to make and execute federal laws. However, the U.S. Supreme Court continues to grapple with challenging questions on the limits of Congressional authority to compel information. The Court recently decided to dismiss a case that would have addressed a pressing question regarding Congress’ authority to demand information from an executive agency. This case represents a hallmark of separation of powers, and the Federalist debate.
COVID-19. Russia’s invasion. The Supreme Court. Inflation. Mass resignations. Student debt. Global warming. The United State’s role in the world. Recently, these are at the forefront of our thoughts at one time or another, and for some, every day. This week, President Biden will likely address all of those and more at the 2022 State of the Union (SOTU).
This is only one of the effects of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. Rather than their constituency, campaign funds now greatly influence Congress members’ decisions. Citizens United created a democracy that no longer works for the citizens, but rather for those with the largest pockets. Consequently, for democracy to return to the hands of the people, the Citizens United decision needs to be overturned.
Most Americans are aware of the Plessy V. Ferguson Supreme Court case, however many are not familiar with the Insular cases, which were decided by the same Supreme Court justices. The Insular cases were a series of Supreme Court cases from the early 20th century which determined the constitutional rights of those who live in United States territories. Currently, the United States territories are composed of Puerto Rico, the American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S Virgin Islands. In these cases, the courts concluded that Americans living in American territories are not granted automatic citizenship and that Congress has the authority to grant citizenship to these territories. Although there have been several improvements to their conditions, these cases have yet to be overturned; in some of the American territories, citizenship continues to not be an automatic right.
On our Women and Leadership trip to Washington DC over spring break, we visited the United States Supreme Court. After having a private tour of the Court, including a tour of the actual Courtroom, the women of our group stopped at the temporary exhibit about the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.