(JustPatriots.com) – Article III of the US Constitution established the judicial branch of our government and the Supreme Court as the sole interpreter of our laws. This branch determines if laws are constitutional and how they should be applied to various cases.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country, with 94 district courts and 13 courts of appeals falling under its guidance.
How Is the Supreme Court Structured?
In the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress established the Supreme Court with six justices. In 1869, Congress increased the number to eight Associate Justice positions and one Chief Justice. Congress still has the freedom to increase or decrease the number of justices as they see fit.
The President nominates justices to the court and the Senate confirms or rejects them. Once confirmed, justices serve until their death, retirement, or impeachment by Congress. This life-long appointment is meant to insulate the justices from partisan politics and instead allow them to focus on the correct application of the law.
What Cases Does the Supreme Court Hear?
Unlike other courts, the Supreme Court rarely holds trials. To have original jurisdiction, the lawsuit must be between states or involve ambassadors or public ministers. These cases are few and far between. Instead, the court mainly hears appellate cases where it must interpret the law as it applies to the already-tried cases.
No one has a right to appear in the Supreme Court. Hopeful participants petition the high court, and if at least four justices agree to hear the case, it’s put on the schedule. Each year, the Supreme Court hears less than 150 cases, which usually had two lower federal courts disagree on the same question of interpretation.
Oral Arguments at the High Court
Once a case makes it to the Supreme Court, “Friends of the Court,” or amicus curiae, deliver legal briefs to the justices about the topic at hand. Then, lawyers from both parties deliver oral arguments as to why their side is the correct interpretation. Justices then ask questions of the lawyers to hash out the details of the case and legal implications.
After this, the justices take time to debate amongst themselves, do additional research, and make a decision. Then, an official opinion is published, usually accompanied by a dissenting opinion by the justices that disagreed.
The Power of the Supreme Court
This judicial review shows off the incredible power that the Supreme Court wields. The court can declare legislation or executive acts in violation of the Constitution, and lower federal courts must follow the precedent set by the high court.
These decisions affect all aspects of American life, from school choice and medical rights to freedom of speech and religion. By ensuring Justices will not be swayed by personal beliefs and party wishes, they can instead focus on our Constitution and laws, and their truest interpretation.
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