Political Question Doctrine

Federal courts will refuse to hear a case if they find it presents a political question.  This phrase is construed narrowly, and it does not stop courts from hearing cases about controversial issues like abortion, or politically important topics like campaign finance.  Rather, the Supreme Court has held that federal courts should not hear cases which deal directly with issues that Constitution makes the sole responsibility of the other branches of government.  Baker v Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962). Therefore, the Court has held that the conduct of foreign relations is the sole responsibility of the executive branch, and cases challenging the way the executive is using that power present political questions. Oetjen v. Central Leather Co., 246 U.S. 297 (1918). Similarly, the Court has held that lawsuits challenging congress' procedure for impeachment proceedings present political questions.  Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224 (1993).