The judicial branch stands as the third complement to the three-fold setup of the United States (US) government – the other two being the legislative and the executive branches. Anti-federalists initially saw the appointment of unelected officials in the federal judiciary as one that could pave way for massive power abuse, yet the Framers of the Constitution saw such system as fitting for instilling impartiality in court judgments. The year 1789 saw the enactment of The Judiciary Act, which provides for the basic outline of responsibilities each member of the judicial branch should commit. The power of judicial review came next under the leadership Chief Justice Marshal. The Constitution provides for the formation of the so-called constitutional courts, consisting of the Supreme Court, courts of appeals and federal district courts. Courts may also come as creations of the legislative branch, subject to the enactment of a law that sees fit thoroughly deliberated rationales. Presidential nomination is necessary for appointment to the judiciary, alongside confirmation from the Senate based primarily on competence, ideology and beliefs, among many other considerations. For the Supreme Court to start hearing a case presented before it, it must first establish its jurisdiction over the case alongside the approval of at least four justices. Decision-making in the judiciary must follow the principle of stare decisis, referring to the recognition of jurisprudence as law. Yet, public opinion may somewhat modify or change the wisdom of judges and justices in issuing their decisions. In return, the judiciary becomes a formidable component of policymaking efforts through its seasoned role as the interpreter of laws (O’Connor, Sabato & Yanus 264-296).
The importance of public opinion in the American governmental and political system stems from the very concept espoused by democracy on emphasizing the power of the people. Various issues of public interest tend to incite public opinion, manifested empirically through mechanisms such as polling. Public opinion has stood as an important component in the government and politics of the US, to the extent that there have been several attempts to improve ways to sway it towards various political ends. The presidential elections in the US stands as an important instance where public opinion best manifests itself, particularly in aspects where there is thorough questioning of the platforms of presidential candidates. Hence, there is science involved in formulating the right questions for polling. Population and sample determination, being key statistical components, serve as important factors in extracting public opinion strategically. Ideally, it is impossible to gain answers on public opinion from all citizens of the US, but such statistical methods provide the best possible representation of what the majority believes. Polling systems encompass various modes of communications such as telephones, personal interviews and, most recently, the Internet. Poll analysis comes in after gaining the results, forming an almost inconclusive assumption based on scientifically extracted data. Some of the significant kinds of shortcomings in polling public opinion include errors in survey, information asymmetry and absence of formidable public interests in certain issues, hence providing for the slight inconclusiveness of results therein. Influencing public opinion stands as a strategy for gaining support on the implementation of certain policies. The media, opinions from political leaders and influential advocates and demography all stand as crucial factors for influencing public opinion. With that, it is safe to recognize the premise that politicians tend to see public opinion as their springboard for their intended policies and consequent programs (O’Connor, Sabato & Yanus 300-322).
O’Connor, Karen, Sabato, Larry, & Alixandra Yanus. American Government: Roots and Reform (2012 Election Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2012. Print.