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Can the judiciary declare an amendment to the U.S. Constitution illegal?

I know they can overturn laws... but can they overturn amendments? I know amendments are interpreted by them, but they cannot be thrown out as unconstitutional correct?


Ie: many facts have surfaced, showing that the governments amendment that allows taxation was never properly ratified. But that oversight would be for the congress to decide and not the courts? Am I correct here?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    In general: the Constitution governs all 3 branches of the federal government, not the other way around. The Supreme Court cannot declare that an amendment to the Constitution - thereby a part of the Constitution - fails to comply with the Constitution. By definition, the latest version of the Constitution complies with the latest version of the Constitution.

    With respect to the 16th amendment about non-apportioned income tax: it is not a question of overturning. The Court would have to verify whether the proposed amendment was properly ratified. It could conduct it's own investigation, or defer to another body to make that investigation. That just depends on how assertive the Court feels. Eg, in Korematsu v. United States and the other wartime internment cases, the Supreme Court deferred to the analysis of the executive that internment was vital to national security.

    If, as revealed by whatever investigation the Court uses to issue its ruling, ratification occurred in accordance with constitutionally dictated procedure, then the court must uphold convictions for failure to pay federal income tax. If the amendment was not properly ratified, the court would have to overturn such convictions on constitutional grounds. There is no option to interpret the powers of the federal government more broadly on this issue, because the federal government is explicitly forbidden from collecting non-apportioned taxes.

    I don't know if Congress can make determinations about the status of ratification for an amendment, although I suspect that it can.

    Anyway, the Court can't reject an amendment as unconstitutional, but if the "amendment" were not properly ratified, the court could declare laws or convictions based on that "amendment" to be unconstitutional.

  • Owen
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Bill is right. The judiciary is there to uphold and interpret the constitution. Thus why they can declare laws unconstitutional, but can't declare part of the constitution unconstitutional. Part of the reason the founding fathers worked this into the creation of the judiciary was to prevent the judiciary, or the executive via the judiciary, from destroying the basic values of the constitution. Can you imagine a judiciary that decided to overturn Amendment 1? Or amendment 14?

  • 1 decade ago

    First, you need to define 'judiciaries." Do you mean : Local; State or Federal?

    The U.S. Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution as they choose. Amendments may be added as society changes. (I.e.- Prohibition, Women's and Black's right to vote.)

    Most laws are not thrown out as being incorrect at the Federal level. They are reconsidered in light of an evolving(?) society, with issues such as abortion or cloning being topics never considered by the authors of the Constitution.

    Therefore, amendments are subject to reinterpretation.

    I cannot think of an amendment that has been 'overturned.' However, I am off work and there-by, a flat-liner.

    Source(s): Law Degree.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I don't think so, if 3/5ths of the state legislatures etc in the USA want to have an amendment prohibiting the wearing of purple pants, the Supreme Court would have a hard time interpreting it otherwise. The Supreme Court only interprets, it can not enact or veto

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Nope. Remember, the judiciary interprets the Constitution.

    If Congress passes it and it's ratified by the appropriate number of states, that's it. The courts can't unamend the Constitution.

  • 1 decade ago

    No,,,once an amendment is ratified it is part of the constitution...the Supreme Court will not be able to touch it...

  • 4 years ago

    No the infantrymen are counted as ineffective while they die despite if in wrestle or no longer. you are able to look it up yet I honestly have a feeling you will no longer. 2nd the place did you get that quote? I honestly have a feeling you made it up.

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