U.S. Supreme Court

Congressional Gridlock Gives Supreme Court More Say in Legislative Interpretation


Congressional gridlock has resulted in a huge transfer of power to the U.S. Supreme Court, a new study has found.

When the justices interpret federal legislation, Congress can show its disagreement in a new law, as it did with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the New York Times reports. The law overrode a court decision that held Title VII had strict time limits for suing over workplace pay discrimination.

The new study by University of California at Irvine law professor Richard Hasen found that congressional overriding of Supreme Court decisions has “plummeted dramatically” in the last two decades. From 1975 to 1990, Congress overrode an average of 12 decisions in a two-year congressional term. The average from 2001 to 2012 fell to 2.7 overrides.

“Partisanship seems to have strongly diminished the opportunities for bipartisan overridings of Supreme Court cases,” Hasen writes in an introduction to his paper.

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