The Supreme Court Essay example

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The Supreme Court

At the apex of our federal court system stands the United States Supreme Court. It stands as the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation and its decision can be changed only by a constitutional amendment. Two documents are responsible for its creation which is the Constitution, which explicitly creates the Supreme Court, and the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. The Supreme Court is the only court named in the constitution laying out the Courts basic jurisdiction, identifying the mode of selection and tenure for justices. Under Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that "[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the
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The first Supreme Court in 1789 consisted of five justices. Congress added a sixth seat in 1790 and a seventh in 1807 to ease the strain on justices as the number of circuit courts increased. Congress added the eighth and ninth seats in 1837. Membership stayed at nine until 1863, when Congress added a tenth seat, only to abolish it when a justice died in 1865. In 1867, Congress reduced the seats to seven to limit the opportunity of President Jackson to appoint new members. Congress restored the number of seats to nine in 1869, and in 1891 abolished the Supreme Court justices’ circuit-riding burden. The number of justices has remained fixed at nine, for over 100 years, making tie votes unlikely unless circumstances prevent a justice from participating in deliberations. There is currently one Chief Justice and eight associate justices in the Supreme Court although Congress does have the authority to change the number of justices sitting on the Supreme Court (Van Dervort, 2000, p. 69).
Qualifications to become a justice although not spelled out immediately became obvious. From the beginning, justices have all been lawyers and most have pursued legal and political careers prior to serving the Court. The attainment of a high position in government or the legal profession is also beneficial as they lend credibility for the consideration. Some justices however chose a different path that began with private practice followed by at some point by elevation to

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