Soviet Union Table of Contents
The term control (kontrol') referred to a system of government and public monitoring of every sphere of production, trade, and administration. Through the government's control organs, the party ensured that the government and society functioned in compliance with the interests of socialism. The Supreme Soviet nominally formed and directed the three kinds of control organs: the court system, the Procuracy, and the Committee of People's Control. These control organs administered a system of law that derived from the Russian Empire, whose system of law was in turn based on Roman law.
Article 151 of the Constitution and the Law on the Supreme Court specified the composition of the Supreme Court but assigned it few duties and little power. The Supreme Court lacked the authority to determine the constitutionality of legislation, to strike down laws, or to interpret the law. Unlike the United States Supreme Court, the Soviet court did not have the power to establish norms of law. The Supreme Court and the lower courts only applied legal principles established by the Constitution or interpreted by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
The Supreme Court was at the apex of a pyramid of lower courts. Cases came to the Supreme Court on appeal from these lower courts. The lowest-level court, called the people's court (see Glossary), was presided over by a professional, elected judge and two people's assessors (lay judges) who were also elected. Provincial soviets and republic supreme soviets elected judges between the district level and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also has created a separate series of military tribunals. The Supreme Soviet supervised the application of the law in all these courts to ensure uniform standards.
Data as of May 1989