Constitution Week - September 17-22

Join the Capitol Visitor Center for Constitution Week. Complete schedule here.

Congress and the Judicial Branch: Negotiation

Twelve-year-old Girl in Vermont Cotton Mill, photograph by Lewis Hine, 1910

Congress and the federal courts have unique but complementary powers as defined by the Constitution.

Congress creates laws; the Supreme Court interprets those laws in the context of legal disputes and rules on their constitutionality. Congress can change the courts’ size, structure, and jurisdiction. The two branches have sometimes disagreed on issues, each questioning the actions of the other, but have also found common ground, building on and reinforcing each other’s work. This constitutional dialogue between those who write our laws and those who interpret them is central to the U.S. system of checks and balances.