The concept of bureaucracy was advanced principally by Max Weber. Weber was a German sociologist who viewed bureaucracy as the ideal means to organize governments and large organizations both in terms of structure and function. Bureaucracy is mainly defined by formal rules and procedures to be followed at every stage of whichever process that is undertaken by the organization. In addition, bureaucracies are usually characterized by a clear chain of command which must be followed by all the members of the organization. Such attributes contribute to the low fanfare that characterizes the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, the bureaucracy can be just as important as other branches of Congress. This is because the bureaucracy has the power to make and amend rules which will determine how programs will operate. The importance attached to the bureaucracy is the fact that such rules have to be obeyed just like how the laws of the land are obeyed.
Bureaucratic agencies can make laws due to the prominent role they play in actualizing laws made by Congress. Indeed, once the congress passes a new set of laws, it falls upon the requisite agencies to make the necessary rules to give effect to the laws. Thus, by extension, the bureaucratic agencies are involved in the law making process. Central to the working of the bureaucracy is the iron triangle of bureaucracy. This comprises a tripartite arrangement where agency bureaucrats, interest groups and congressional subcommittees work hand in hand in setting of government policies. For instance, the three sides are usually involved in developing the government policy on social security. Thus, in the case of social security, the American Association of Retired People would represent interest groups; the House Committee on Aging would represent the congressional subcommittees while the Social Security Administration would represent the agency bureaucrats.
The judicial system has continuously evolved over time and today the courts have assumed a prominent role in a majority of the countries of the world. Indeed, the United States is no exception to this increased role that is being played by the courts in the society. This submission contends that the courts are much more important today than they were a few hundred years ago. There are many reasons which could be advanced in support of this position but the principal argument is that in the past the society was largely homogenous and even where disputes arose, they were of a relatively smaller magnitude and impact as compared to the challenges the 21st century American society is grappling with. With a largely heterogeneous society and new complex issues arising every day, the courts have much more significance now as they are arguably the last resort for people to amicably resolve disputes of whatever nature.
The concept of judicial independence advances the notion that in carrying out their tasks, judicial officers will not be subject to any external influence which would make them partial umpires in resolving matters that are brought before them. While today’s Supreme Court decisions are termed as political, this submission contends that the idea of judicial independence is still valid. This is because in making their decisions, the judges of the Supreme Court are guided by the Constitution and are not subject to any external influence. While the fact that political parties determine which judges are appointed to the Supreme Court cannot be wished away, this article nevertheless contends that once they are sworn in, the judges pledge their fidelity to the law and the people of the United States; they do not pledge to be gatekeepers of any political party. In addition, there are enough safeguards to ensure that judicial independence is not abused by any judicial officers. However going forward, there may be need to delink the process of appointing Supreme Court judges from and any political influence so as to ensure a greater degree of judicial independence. After all, justice must not only be done but must also be seen to have been done.
The issue of abortion has become an increasingly emotive and controversial issue in the United States. Perhaps it is about time that this matter was taken to the Supreme Court so as to make a determination on the way forward. There are differences in opinion as to when life commences. Some argue that it commences at conception while others have argued that it commences at birth. Providing an answer to this question will be key to dealing with the issue of abortion. Secondly, in a world where human rights are assuming a greater importance in everyday life, there is need for the Supreme Court to clearly define the rights if any that an unborn child has vis a vis the rights of the expectant mother. The Supreme Court needs to give direction on the balancing of these two categories of rights and whether either of these categories of rights supersedes the other. Such a determination by the Supreme Court will certainly go a long way in clearing up the different viewpoints surrounding abortion. Of course, a determination by the Supreme Court on the controversial topic of abortion will not prevent people from continuing to hold different opinion with regard to the subject matter. However, it will be an important step in providing the necessary legal framework from which to approach this highly emotive and controversial issue.
Clegg, S. R., Harris, M., & Hopfl, H. (2011). Managing Modernity; Beyond Bureaucracy? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Macdonald, J. A. (2010). Limitation Riders and Congressional Influence over Bureaucratic Policy Decisions. American POlitical Science Review, 766-782.
Rios-Figueroa, J., & Staton, J. K. (2012). An Evaluation of Cross-National Measures of Judicial Independence. The Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 1-15.