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Checks on the judicial branch

The U.S. Supreme Court's power can be limited by amendments, like when the 19th Amendment overruled the court's decision in Minor vs. Happersett, granting women the right to vote. This showcases how legislative branches can check Supreme Court decisions.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In other videos, we have talked about how the other branches of government can limit Supreme Court powers. We're going to continue that conversation in this video by discussing how the amendment process can also limit or overrule a Supreme Court decision, so let's go to 1875. Just for some context, the 14th Amendment, the United States, had already been ratified, and in particular, you have the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment that says no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Well, you could imagine a lot of women at the time who were citizens of the United States said that, "Look, voting is a privilege of being a citizen, "but I am not allowed to vote," and so you have Virginia Minor, who was a citizen in Missouri, decides to register to vote. She is denied and eventually takes the registrar to court. It eventually gets appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court in Minor versus Happersett, where Happersett is the registrar in Missouri, and the Supreme Court in this case rules that voting is not a privilege of citizenship for women, and it seems absurd to us right now, that voting seems to be one of the main privileges of being a citizen, but that's the way the Supreme Court ruled in 1875. Now, the folks who were fighting for a women's right to vote weren't just women. They were also men, eventually started to have victories in the early 1900s at various states, especially states in the West, started to allow women to vote, but as we go into the teens of the 1900s, the movement gets enough steam to get Congress and the state legislators to propose and ratify the 19th Amendment, which says the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. So what we have here is the legislative branch, both the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures, because it needs to be voted for by 2/3 of both houses of Congress and then ratified by 3/4 of the states, they essentially overruled the Minor versus Happersett decision. They said, "All right, Supreme Court. "You might see some ambiguity in the 14th Amendment," although today it's hard to say that voting isn't a privilege of citizenship, but to make it very clear, they proposed and ratified the 19th Amendment. So not only is this an interesting time in American history. Not that long ago, less than 100 years before this video that I'm making was made, women did not have the full right to vote most of the United States. We eventually get the 19th Amendment, but above and beyond that, this is an example of how other branches of government can exercise some checks on the Unites States Supreme Court.