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The Supreme Court


The Supreme Court CWP Magruder s Chapter 18, Section 3 Mrs. Huston Equal Justice for All One of our most important beliefs Carved into the stone above the entry to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court
  • CWP
  • Magruders Chapter 18, Section 3
  • Mrs. Huston

Equal Justice for All
  • One of our most important beliefs
  • Carved into the stone above the entry to the
    Supreme Court building in Washington, DC

  • The Supreme Court is the only court created by
    the Constitution
  • The office of the Chief Justice is also created
    by the Constitution
  • The court is on an equal footing with the
    President and Congress

  • One Chief Justice
  • Eight associate justices
  • Originally there were only five associate justices

Highest Court
  • The Supreme Court is the top of the American
    justice system
  • It is the court of last resort in all matters of
    federal law
  • It is the final authority in any case arising
    from the Constitution, an act of Congress, or a
    treaty of the United States

Judicial Review
  • When the court decides the constitutionality of
    an act of government, whether that is executive,
    legislative or judicial
  • While the power of judicial review isnt
    specifically mentioned in the Constitution, it is
    clear that the framers intended the courts to
    have that function.

Marbury v. Madison
  • First instance of bringing a Constitutionality
    question to the Supreme Court
  • A section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 was found
    to be unconstitutional
  • Marbury was denied his appointment and the
    Supreme Court set the precedent of ruling on the
    constitutionality of acts of Congress

  • The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land
  • All legislative enactments and other government
    actions are subordinate to the Constitution
  • Judges are sworn to uphold the Constitution and
    must refuse to enforce any governmental action in
    conflict with it

  • Thousands of cases through the years
  • Rule on constitutionality
  • Interpret and apply federal law
  • Significant impact on meaning over time

  • Original
  • Cases affecting ambassadors, other public
    ministers and consuls
  • Cases in which a state is a party
  • Appellate
  • All other cases

  • Most cases come to the Supreme Court on appeal
  • Only 1 or 2 cases per term are original
  • The Supreme Court has gained gradual control over
    its caseload and now has almost complete
    authority to choose the cases it will review

How Cases Arrive
  • Rule of Fourat least four justices must agree to
    add the case to the docket
  • More than ½ are taken care of in brief orders
  • remand (return) to a lower court, etc.

Writ of Certiorari
  • the order from the Supreme Court to a lower court
    directing them to send all the records up for
  • Either side can request that the Supreme Court
    issue this writ
  • Usually granted only if the case raises some
    important constitutional question

Writ of Certiorari, continued
  • If it is denied, then the ruling of the lower
    court stands
  • It doesnt decide the merits of the case, they
    just couldnt get four justices to agree it
    should be accepted for review

  • When a lower court is not clear about the
    procedure or the rule of law that should apply in
    a case
  • They will request the Supreme Court certify the
    answer to a specific question in the matter

  • 1st Monday in October until the following June or
  • Terms are identified by the year in which they

  • Oral Arguments
  • Usually heard for several cases during a two week
  • Then recess for two weeks to consider those cases
  • Briefs
  • Written documents filed with the court before the
    oral arguments
  • Detailed statements supporting one side of the

Components, continued
  • Amicus curiaefriend of the court briefs
  • Filed by persons or groups who are not actual
    parties in the case, but have a substantial
    interest in the outcome
  • Can be filed only at the Supreme Courts request
    or with their permission

Solicitor General
  • Represents the United States in all cases to
    which it is party
  • He/she is the Federal Governments chief lawyer
  • Frequently a source of amicus briefs

  • The justices meet in secret on Wednesdays and
    Fridays to consider the cases on which theyve
    heard oral arguments
  • The Chief Justice presides and usually gives
    his/her opinion first
  • The Associate Justices summarize each of their
    views, in order of seniority
  • Then they debate the case
  • Only about 1/3 of cases are decided unanimously

The Opinions
  • If the Chief Justice is on the majority side,
    he/she assigns the writing of the Courts opinion
  • If the Chief Justice is on the minority side,
    then the senior Associate Justice from the
    majority assigns the writing

Majority Opinion
  • This is the official opinion of the Court
  • It announces the decision
  • Gives the reasoning

Concurring Opinion
  • Written when a justice agrees with the majority
    opinion, but wants to emphasize a particular
    point not made in the majority opinion

Dissenting Opinion
  • One or more may be written by those justices who
    disagree with the majority decision
  • All records of opinion are valuable for future
    decisions in similar cases
  • On rare occasions, the Supreme Court does reverse
    itself and a minority opinion could become the
    majority position in the future

The End