The United States Supreme Court

Essay by Anonymous User October 1996

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I've chosen to research on the Supreme Court and it's Justices. This seemed like an interesting topic to me, because someday I want to be a part of the legal system.

The Supreme Court of the United States, composed of a chief justice and eight associate justices, is at the apex of the U.S. judicial system. Provisions for the making of the Supreme Court were made in Article III of the U.S. Constitution. In addition to vesting judicial power in a Supreme Court and other lower courts to be established by congressional legislation, Section 1 of this article states that federal judges 'shall hold their offices during good behavior'--they can only be removed by impeachment procedures. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction, that is, the authority to hear a case without that case being first heard elsewhere.

Justices are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The Constitution does not stipulate the size of the Court, leaving that determination to congressional statute. The familiar nine-member bench has been constant in size only since 1869; it began with six members in 1789 and had as many as ten justices in the period 1863-66. The Supreme Court of the United States is unique because it serves two functions, each of which must be carried on in a subtle relationship to the other. It is, first, a court of law, operating within the forms and rituals of Anglo-Saxon legal procedure with roots going back to 12th-century England; as such it is the highest court in the land, with a final authority over all adjudication whether originating in the federal or the state courts. Because its pronouncements on U.S. law are final, they become guides for every judge and lawyer in the nation. In addition to...