POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

The Judiciary

The judicial branch of government refers to a country’s court system. Judiciaries are responsible for interpreting and applying a country’s laws in particular cases, and can also be invested with the power to strike down laws that it deems unconstitutional.

In the United States, the federal judicial branch of government is headed by the Supreme Court and also includes lower courts of appeal and district courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the United States and possesses the power to challenge Acts of Congress and deem them to be unconstitutional. This is the main avenue through which the judiciary can check the power of the legislative branch of government in the United States.

The judicial branch in the UK, however, doesn’t have the power to deem Acts of Parliament unconstitutional and therefore has relatively less power compared to the legislative branch of government. This is due to the fact that the UK has an unwritten constitution which operates under the basic principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

See also: Branches of Government, The Legislature, The Executive

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