The United States Supreme Court

Essay by encino5000University, Bachelor's April 2006

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The laws of the United States of America are governed by the Constitution which is broken down into three main branches. These branches are the Legislative Branch, Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch of the government is made up of the Supreme Court, Circuit court of Appeals, Specialized Courts and District Court. Congress passes laws, the President either passes or vetoes these laws, but the Supreme Court decides if the law is constitutional or not.

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. 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 Supreme Court of the United States is unique because it serves two functions, as such it is the highest court in the land and a policy making body.

The Supreme Court is primarily a court of appeals. Cases generally reach the Court either from the lower federal courts or from the state supreme courts. There are three possible routes by which a case may come to the Supreme Court. A lower federal court may send up a question of law for instructions, a process called certification. The Court has some discretion in deciding whether to accept or deny any cases. It may reject an appeal on the ground that the federal question raised is trivial or insubstantial, that the question was not validly raised in a state court, or that the state court's judgment might be sustained on an independent ground of state law. Thus the right of appeal is subject...