Does Congressional Legislation Have The Power To Override Supreme Court Rulings?

  • Since the death of Ginsburg in September, the left has debated various options for reforming what many see as an overly partisan judiciary. Some have called for increasing the number of justices to help restore the court’s ideological balance. Others have suggested term limits, or requiring a supermajority for certain decisions.
  • While changing the rules and the makeup of the judiciary holds promise, demoralized activists should not lose sight of Congress’s power to temper or reverse existing court decisions. Statutory overrides and chipping away at conservative constitutional decisions should be part of any future progressive agenda, and the set of demands brought to negotiations by the White House and Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
  • Overriding judicial decisions, while always an important tool in Congress’s legislative toolbox, has fallen by the wayside over the last two decades. One study, by Yale law professor William Eskridge Jr traces the turning point in the nation’s history of judicial overrides to the mid-1970s, when emboldened post-Watergate Democrats passed major omnibus legislation (like the Tax Reform Act of 1976) that updated laws and rejected various Supreme Court decisions at once.

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