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Supreme Court

By bowmanaziz Dec 17, 2012 1080 Words
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate (but largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed after impeachment. Under Chief Justices Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth (1789–1801), the Court heard few cases; its first decision was West v. Barnes (1791), a case involving a procedural issue. The Court lacked a home of its own and had little prestige, a situation not helped by the highest-profile case of the era, Chisholm v. Georgia, which was immediately repudiated by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court's power and prestige waxed during the Marshall Court (1801–1835). Under Marshall, the Court established the principle of judicial review, including specifying itself as the supreme expositor of the Constitution (Marbury v. Madison) and made several important constitutional rulings giving shape and substance to the balance of power between the federal government and the states (prominently, Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden). The Marshall Court also ended the practice of each justice issuing his opinion seriatim, a remnant of British tradition, and instead issuing a single majority opinion. Also during Marshall's tenure, although beyond the Court's control, the impeachment and acquittal of Justice Samuel Chase in 1804-1805 helped cement the principle of judicial independence. The Taney Court (1836–1864) made several important rulings, such as Sheldon v. Sill, which held that while Congress may not limit the subjects the Supreme Court may hear, it may limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts to prevent them from hearing cases dealing with certain subjects, Nevertheless, it is primarily remembered for its ruling in Dred Scott v. Sand ford, which may have helped precipitate the Civil War. In the Reconstruction era, the Chase, Waite, and Fuller Courts (1864–1910) interpreted the new Civil War amendments to the Constitution and developed the doctrine of substantive due process. Under the White and Taft Courts (1910–1930), the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment had incorporated some guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the states, grappled with the new antitrust statutes (Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States), upheld the constitutionality of military conscription (Selective Draft Law Cases) and brought the substantive due process doctrine to its first apogee (Adkins v. Children's Hospital). During the Hughes, Stone, and Vinson Courts (1930–1953), the Court gained its own accommodation in 1935 and changed its interpretation of the Constitution, giving a broader reading to the powers of the federal government to facilitate President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. During World War II, the Court continued to favor government power, upholding the internment of Japanese citizens and the mandatory pledge of allegiance. Nevertheless, was soon repudiated, and the Steel Seizure Case restricted the pro-government trend. The Warren Court (1953–1969) dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional civil liberties. It held that segregation in public schools violates equal protection Brown v. Board of Education. Sharpe and Green v. County School and that traditional legislative district boundaries violated the right to vote . It created a general right to privacy, limited the role of religion in public school, incorporated most guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the State prominently Gideon v. Wainwright and required that criminal suspects be apprised of all these rights by police. At the same time, however, the Court limited defamation suits by public figures and supplied the government with an unbroken run of antitrust victories. The Burger Court (1969–1986) expanded Griswold's right to privacy to strike down abortion laws, but divided deeply on affirmative action and campaign finance regulation , and dithered on the death penalty, ruling first that most applications were defective , then that the death penalty itself was not unconstitutional. The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005) was noted for its revival of judicial enforcement of federalism, emphasizing the limits of the Constitution's affirmative grants of power and the force of its restrictions on those powers. It struck down single-sex state schools as a violation of equal protection, laws against sodomy as violations of substantive due process, and the line item veto, but upheld school vouchers and reaffirmed Roe's restrictions on abortion laws. The Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, which ended the electoral recount during the presidential election of 2000, became controversial. The Roberts Court 2005 present is regarded by some as more conservative than the Rehnquist Court. Some of its major rulings have concerned federal preemption, civil procedure, the Bill of Rights, prominently Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (First Amendment), Heller-McDonald (Second Amendment), and (Eighth Amendment). Article III of the United States Constitution leaves it to Congress to fix the number of justices. The Judiciary Act of 1789 called for the appointment of six justices, and as the nation's boundaries grew, Congress added justices to correspond with the growing number of judicial circuits: seven in 1807, nine in 1837, and ten in 1863. In 1866, at the behest of Chief Justice Chase, Congress passed an act providing that the next three justices to retire would not be replaced, which would thin the bench to seven justices by attrition. Consequently, one seat was removed in 1866 and a second in 1867. In 1869, however, the Circuit Judges Act returned the number of justices to nine, where it has since remained. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to expand the Court in 1937. His proposal envisioned appointment of one additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 years 6 months and refused retirement, up to a maximum bench of 15 justices. The proposal was ostensibly to ease the burden of the docket on elderly judges, but the actual purpose was widely understood as an effort to pack the Court with justices who would support Roosevelt's New Deal. The plan, usually called the "Court-packing Plan", failed in Congress. Nevertheless, the Court's balance began to shift within months when Justice van Deventer retired and was replaced by Senator Hugo Black. By the end of 1941, Roosevelt had appointed seven justices and elevated Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice.

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