Understanding the Supreme Court

Understanding the Supreme Court

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Understanding the Supreme Court

What is a Supreme Court? 


The Supreme Court of the United States is regarded as the highest court in the nation. Judgments or rulings in the Supreme Court cannot be subsequently reviewed. As a result of this classification, the Supreme Court in the United States possesses ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all State and Federal courts within the country. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States possesses original jurisdiction, albeit over a limited range of cases. 


The Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C. and is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associated Justices, who are each nominated by the President of the United States and subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Once appointed, each Justice will maintain lifetime tenure unless the individual is removed following an impeachment order handed down by the House of Representatives. The impeachment must also be affirmed by the U.S. Senate. 


What does a Supreme Court Justice Do?


The United States Supreme Court is the official head of the Government’s judicial branch. The dominating purpose of the Supreme Court is to ensure that the laws and decisions rendered by lower court systems in the United States are in alignment with the country’s Constitution. If a law or previous judgment is ruled unconstitutional or archaic, the Supreme Court has the ability to ratify the previously-rendered decision. 


In the United States, there are two types of legal systems: Federal and State. As a result, each State of America has its own body of laws and coordinating court system. 


In addition, each State also contains its own Supreme Court. Similar to the Federal system of laws, a State Supreme Court is responsible for ensuring laws and decisions based on the particular State’s Constitution. The individuals, who preside over these matters in both the Federal and State system are the Supreme Court Justices. 


The first duty of a Supreme Court Justice is to decide which legal matters should be considered by the Supreme Court. This evaluation process is offered by determining whether or not the proposed cases contain questions revolving around Constitutional violations or interpretations. 


The majority of cases that come before the Supreme Court are appeals, meaning the cases were previously heard and subsequently decided by the system’s lower courts. That being said, the Supreme Court may only reconsider those appeals that directly involve a State or Federal Constitution.


History of the Supreme Court


The history of the Supreme Court is organized based on era. These particular eras are named after the Chief Justice of that particular time frame. The earliest Courts within the Supreme Court were run under Chief Justices Rutledge, Jay and Ellsworth during 1789-1801. At this time, the Supreme Court heard few cases. Furthermore, the Court initially lacked a home and any sense of real prestige.


The Supreme Court, and the prestige or reputation attached, dramatically altered during the Marshall Court (1801-1835). During this era, the Supreme Court was declared the supreme arbiter of the United States Constitution. The Marshall Court made several important rulings which gave shape and substance to the Constitutional balance of power between the Federal Government and the states.


As time passed, the Supreme Court gained administrative and authoritative power and through its numerous court decisions, laid the interpretative framework off of which the United States Constitution was built. Presently, during the Roberts Court, the Supreme Court has dealt with many issues concerning anti-trust legislation, abortion, the death penalty, the Fourth Amendment, free speech of high school students as well as government employees, military detainees, voting rights, school desegregation, and campaign financing. 


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