Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom
Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom

Three Things to Know About the Supreme Court

by John Rabe

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s vast judicial overreach in the Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex “marriage” decision, it has become clear that the Court was able to do what it did, in part, because of widespread ignorance of its proper role.

Misconceptions abound (and are often repeated as fact by the media), while our old civics education (a subject once rigorously taught but now lost within a morass of instruction on situational ethics and fluid gender identities) fades into the mists. Considering our current situation, it is vital to strip away some false “facts” about the judicial branch.

Here are three things you think you know about the Supreme Court, but don’t:


The Constitution makes the Supreme Court the final, authoritative interpreter of the Constitution.

This is False.

The Constitution deals only briefly with the Supreme Court at all, establishing it (along with all federal courts) in Article III to judge disputes between the states, issues arising between state governments and the citizens of other states, and the like. In the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803) the Court asserted its power to review laws to determine their constitutionality.

In Marbury, Chief Justice John Marshall acknowledged that the Constitution is the “paramount law” of America and that the Court’s duty was to make sure that laws conformed to the Constitution as it is written. He also properly asserted that the Court itself was bound by the Constitution.

But Thomas Jefferson, president of the United States at the time of Marbury, was concerned about possible danger resulting from the Court asserting the role of final interpreter, saying, “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please.” Jefferson said that making “judges the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”

While most agree that courts must have some ability to interpret and apply the Constitution, it is important to know that the Constitution itself gives the Supreme Court far less power than the Court has arrogated to itself—a power that has turned into the very despotism Jefferson feared.


A Supreme Court judgment is “the law of the land.”

This is False.

In the hours after the Obergefell decision, TV commentators frequently speculated about “what this law means.” But the Supreme Court has no authority to make laws. That power is given exclusively to the people’s elected representatives—the legislature. The Supreme Court does not hand down laws, nor does it have the authority to declare “the law of the land.” Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christians, intending to be biblical, treat Supreme Court edicts as if they were proclamations from a rightful king. In the American system of government, however, we actually fail to acknowledge the true, proper earthly authority (the Constitution) when we allow unelected judges to rule by fiat.


I am obligated to obey the Supreme Court as my authority.

This is False, in most cases.

This myth is closely related to the previous one. This notion may seem shocking, but the Supreme Court has no authority, constitutionally, legally, or otherwise, to make you do anything—unless you are a direct party to a case before it, or a government official. To be clear, I am not advocating flouting the authority of the Supreme Court or ignoring it; I am merely pointing out that there is no obligation in any way for private citizens to pour through Supreme Court opinions and adjust their behavior accordingly. The Court’s authority is to render judgment in the cases brought before it; if you are not a party in a case brought before it, you are not obligated by its judgment.

The Apostle Paul commands, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). But every authority has its proper sphere, which includes proper limits. Governing authorities have jurisdictions. For instance, I am the proper authority over my children—but not over your children. All authority except God’s has boundaries and limits. The Supreme Court has proper legal, constitutional authority in the cases before it, but it has no authority to command anyone else.

Yet for decades the Supreme Court has been inventing “rights” out of thin air and ordering them enforced as law—“rights” which have included killing babies in the womb, homosexual sodomy, and now same-sex “marriage.”

But in the words of dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court is merely asserting “a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.” The time has come for all Christians to stand up and demand that the United States Supreme Court be put back in its proper place—with no authority to invent laws and impose them on the nation.