What is the US Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court: Most Powerful Court in the U.S.

The Supreme Court interprets our Constitution and defends the principles and ideals of our forefathers. It is the highest court in the United States for all cases involving the constitutionality of an action. It is also the highest court for determining if laws are constitutional. Moreover, the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to “check the actions of the president and Congress.”

Original Jurisdiction
According to the Federal Judiciary Center, (FJC), the “Constitution grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in cases in which states are a part.” They also “hear all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls.” This court determines the final decision for a case. There is no higher court to appeal than the Supreme Court.

The justices are appointed by the President. The Senate votes to approve the appointments. There are eight associate justices and one chief justice. Their term is for life.

Appellate Cases
The Supreme Court jurisdiction also includes appellate cases. “Most cases are from the state courts. If any state court makes a decision on a federal question and the litigant has no further remedy within the state, the Supreme Court may consider it.”

Its Function
The Supreme Court’s function is not to correct “errors made by trial judges.” They make the law clear in “cases of national importance or when lower courts disagree about the interpretation of the Constitution or federal laws.”

Approximate Number of Cases Heard
Most of the Supreme Court cases – “roughly two-thirds – are requests for review of decisions of federal appellate or district courts,” according to The Supreme court Historical Society. “Only one to five cases are heard per term from original jurisdiction cases. Trial records, briefs and other documents, however, are hundreds of pages long with these cases.”

For example, “in 1952, Arizona sued California over water from the Colorado river. The trial record consisted of 26 thousand pages. The briefs and documents were an additional four thousand pages. Oral arguments lasted 16 hours in 1961 and six more hours in 1962. Finally, in 1963, Arizona prevailed in the Court’s final decision,” according to The Supreme Court Historical Society.

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