Judicial Decision-Making and Implementation by the Supreme Court

The courts are the least covered and least publicly known of the three branches of government. The inner workings of the Supreme Court and its day-to-day operations certainly do not get as much public attention as its rulings, and only a very small number of its announced decisions are enthusiastically discussed and debated. The Court’s 2015 decision on same-sex marriage was the exception, not the rule, since most court opinions are filed away quietly in the United States Reports, sought out mostly by judges, lawyers, researchers, and others with a particular interest in reading or studying them.

Thus, we sometimes envision the justices formally robed and cloistered away in their chambers, unaffected by the world around them, but the reality is that they are not that isolated, and a number of outside factors influence their decisions. Though they lack their own mechanism for enforcement of their rulings and their power remains checked and balanced by the other branches, the effect of the justices’ opinions on the workings of government, politics, and society in the United States is much more significant than the attention they attract might indicate.

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