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The United States Supreme Court Essay

1975 words - 8 pages

THE UNITED STATESSUPREMECOURTI'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 being a court of law, the Supreme Court is a policy making body. It is a political institution in the sense that it exerts a commanding influence on the public policies of the United States, a fact that Alexis de Tocqueville recognized so perceptively in 1834 when he observed: 'Scarcely any question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.' The U.S. judicial system is complex, with authority dispersed vertically among layers of local, state, and federal governments and horizontally among the branches of the national government. Because the whole thing is controlled by a written constitution that states general rules to guide and control those who exercise power. There is a need for someone to see that the rules are interpreted and followed.Early in the country's history the Supreme Court assumed the role of referee, or overseer, not only to declare definitively what the rules are but to make certain that all public officials, from police officer to the nation's president, obey them.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...

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