Marcy Resnik said the Supreme Court of the United States holds a crucial position in the American legal system. As the highest judicial authority in the country, the Court plays a pivotal role in interpreting the US Constitution. This task carries significant implications for the nation's governance, as it shapes the meaning and application of constitutional principles. Over the years, the Court's interpretations have shaped American society, impacting areas such as civil rights, individual liberties, and the balance of power between branches of government. In this article Marcy Resnik explores the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the US Constitution, examining its power, methods of interpretation, and the impact of its decisions on the nation.

I. The Power of Judicial Review

The power of judicial review, the authority of courts to invalidate laws and government actions that conflict with the Constitution, is the foundation of the Supreme Court's role in interpreting the US Constitution. Although the power of judicial review is not explicitly granted to the Court in the Constitution, it was established through the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803. Chief Justice John Marshall articulated the Court's authority to interpret the Constitution and declared that it had the power to strike down laws deemed unconstitutional. This seminal decision cemented the Court's role as the final arbiter of the Constitution's meaning.

II. Methods of Interpretation

A. Originalism

One of the predominant methods of constitutional interpretation employed by Supreme Court justices is originalism. Marcy Resnik said originalism asserts that the Constitution should be interpreted based on its original meaning at the time of its enactment. Originalist justices believe that the Constitution's framers intended it to be a fixed document with a specific meaning that should guide contemporary interpretations. This approach seeks to ensure that the Court's rulings align with the framers' original intent.

B. Living Constitution

In contrast to originalism, the living constitution approach asserts that the Constitution is a living document that should adapt to the changing needs and values of society. Proponents of this method argue that the framers intended the Constitution to be flexible and capable of addressing contemporary issues. Justices who adopt this approach believe that the Constitution should be interpreted in light of evolving social, political, and cultural circumstances.

C. Pragmatism

Pragmatism represents a middle ground between originalism and the living constitution approach. This approach focuses on the practical consequences and real-world implications of constitutional interpretations. Pragmatic justices consider the original intent and text of the Constitution but also take into account the consequences of their decisions and the impact on society. They aim to strike a balance between fidelity to the Constitution and the need for practical solutions to contemporary challenges.

III. Impact on Civil Rights and Individual Liberties

Marcy Resnik said throughout its history, the Supreme Court has played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights and protecting individual liberties through its interpretations of the Constitution. Landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, have reshaped American society and advanced the cause of equality. These rulings reflect the Court's power to interpret the Constitution in a manner that expands individual rights and ensures equal protection under the law.

IV. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances

Another significant aspect of the Supreme Court's role in interpreting the US Constitution is its impact on the separation of powers and checks and balances among the three branches of government. The Court acts as a check on the other branches by declaring laws and executive actions unconstitutional when they exceed the limits set by the Constitution. This power ensures that the executive and legislative branches do not overstep their authority and helps maintain the delicate balance of power established by the framers.

V. Criticisms and Challenges

The Supreme Court's role in interpreting the US Constitution is not without criticism and challenges. Critics argue that the Court's interpretations can be subjective and influenced by individual justices' political ideologies. They contend that the Court sometimes oversteps its authority and engages in judicial activism, shaping policy rather than simply interpreting the Constitution. Others question the Court's legitimacy, suggesting that unelected judges should not have the final say on constitutional matters.

Moreover, the Court faces challenges in dealing with evolving societal issues and technological advancements. Marcy Resnik said new and complex legal questions arise, such as privacy rights in the digital age and the scope of free speech on social media platforms. The Court must grapple with these challenges and provide guidance on how constitutional principles apply in the modern era.


Marcy Resnik said the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the US Constitution is a critical pillar of the American legal system. Through its power of judicial review, the Court has the authority to shape the meaning and application of constitutional principles. Its interpretations have had far-reaching effects on civil rights, individual liberties, and the balance of power between branches of government. Whether employing originalism, the living constitution approach, or pragmatism, the Court's decisions have left an indelible mark on American society. While subject to criticism and facing ongoing challenges, the Supreme Court remains a cornerstone of constitutional interpretation in the United States.