A supreme court is generally the highest court in a country. This means that, in many countries, it is the court of last resort and it has more power than other courts. Decisions of lower appellate courts can be overruled here. However, not all highest courts are named as such. Civil law countries do not tend to have only one high court. Additionally, the highest court in some jurisdictions is not named the "Supreme Court". For example, the High Court of Australia. In some places the court named the "Supreme Court" is not the highest court. Examples include the New York Supreme Court, the Supreme Courts of several provinces and territories of Canada and the former Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales. Decisions made in these courts are all subject to higher Courts of Appeal.
Some countries have a separate constitutional court. This is a high court that deals with issues regarding that country's constitution. Other countries do not have separate constitutional courts. Constitutional issues are decided by their supreme court. Nonetheless, such courts are sometimes also called "constitutional courts". For example, some have called the Supreme Court of the United States "the world's oldest constitutional court" because it was the first court in the world to strike down a law as unconstitutional. The case was Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). Marbury v. Madison also established the US Supreme Court as an equal branch of the United States Government, along with the executive and Legislative branches. The US Supreme court is technically not a constitutional court just as the European Court of Justice is also not a constitutional court. However, both courts engage in a great deal of constitutional review. This means they function like a constitutional court, but are not called constitutional courts.
Many, like the United States Supreme Court, at times become involved in political issues. These include the Supreme Courts of Egypt, Pakistan, Israel, India and Kuwait. One of the most controversial political decisions was Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000). This was the United States Supreme Court decision that resolved the dispute surrounding the 2000 presidential election. There has been a good deal of controversy over the European Court of Justice reviewing decisions made by member state governments. The Supreme Court of Israel president, Aharon Barak, has been criticized for, along with others, dominating the government of Israel.
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