Supreme Court of the United States:
The highest judicial body in the country and leads the judicial branch of the federal government. It is often referred to by the acronym SCOTUS.
The Supreme Court consists of nine justices: the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices. The justices are nominated by the president and confirmed with the "advice and consent" of the United States Senate per Article II of the United States Constitution. As federal judges, the justices serve during "good behavior," which means that justices have tenure for life unless they are removed by impeachment and subsequent conviction.
The Supreme Court is the only court established by the United States Constitution (in Article III); all other federal courts are created by Congress.
The Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C., in the United States Supreme Court building. The Supreme Court's yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June.
Article III of the United States Constitution:
Section 1:The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section 2:The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; - to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; - to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; - to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; - to Controversies between two or more States; - between a State and Citizens of another State, - between Citizens of different States, - between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3:Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.
Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the United States. Currently, there are nine Justices on the Court. Before taking office, each Justice must be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Justices hold office during good behavior, typically, for life.
The Constitution states that the Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction means that the Supreme Court is the first, and only, Court to hear a case. The Constitution limits original jurisdiction cases to those involving disputes between the states or disputes arising among ambassadors and other high-ranking ministers. Appellate jurisdiction means that the Court has the authority to review the decisions of lower courts. Most of the cases the Supreme Court hears are appeals from lower courts.
Writs of Certiorari:
Parties who are not satisfied with the decision of a lower court must petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. The primary means to petition the court for review is to ask it to grant a writ of certiorari. This is a request that the Supreme Court order a lower court to send up the record of the case for review. The Court usually is not under any obligation to hear these cases, and it usually only does so if the case could have national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, and/or could have precedential value. In fact, the Court accepts 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year. Typically, the Court hears cases that have been decided in either an appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals or the highest Court in a given state (if the state court decided a Constitutional issue).
The Supreme Court has its own set of rules. According to these rules, four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case. Five of the nine Justices must vote in order to grant a stay, e.g., a stay of execution in a death penalty case. Under certain instances, one Justice may grant a stay pending review by the entire Court.
John G. Roberts, Jr.Born in Buffalo, New York, January 27, 1955. President George W. Bush nominated him as Chief Justice of the United States, and he took his seat September 29, 2005.
Clarence ThomasBorn in the Pinpoint community near Savannah, Georgia on June 23, 1948. President George H.W. Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and he took his seat October 23, 1991.
Stephen G. BreyerBorn in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938. President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994.
Samuel A. AlitoBorn in Trenton, New Jersey, April 1, 1950. President George W. Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat January 31, 2006.
Sonia SotomayorBorn in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.
Elena KaganBorn in New York, New York, on April 28, 1960. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on August 7, 2010.
Neil M. GorsuchBorn in Denver, Colorado, August 29, 1967. President Donald J. Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on April 10, 2017.
Brett M. KavanaughBorn in Washington, D.C., on February 12, 1965. President Donald J. Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on October 6, 2018.
Amy Coney BarrettBorn in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 28, 1972. President Donald J. Trump nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat on October 27, 2020.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America.Supreme Court of the United States:
- It has ultimate and largely discretionary appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state court cases that involve a point of federal law.
- It has original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, specifically "all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party.
- The Court holds the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution.
- It is also able to strike down presidential directives for violating either the Constitution or statutory law.
It may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones but has ruled that it does not have power to decide non-justiciable political questions.
- Established by Article Three of the United States Constitution, the composition and procedures of the Supreme Court were initially established by the 1st Congress through the Judiciary Act of 1789.
- As later set by the Judiciary Act of 1869, the Court consists of the chief justice of the United States and eight associate justices.
- Each justice has lifetime tenure, meaning they remain on the Court until they die, retire, resign, or are removed from office.
- When a vacancy occurs, the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints a new justice.
- Each justice has a single vote in deciding the cases argued before the Court.
- When in majority, the chief justice decides who writes the opinion of the court; otherwise, the most senior justice in the majority assigns the task of writing the opinion.
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