Introduction to the United States Supreme Court

CJ 140

Purdue University Global

The Judicial System, in which was first established in the United States Constitution, in Article III, is made up of several components, including; Trial courts, appellate courts, and the supreme courts. The United States Supreme Court holds the power in the justice system, with the ability to uphold, or override, previous convictions from lower courts. Their main function is to interpret the laws as they may pertain to the Constitution, and declare them legal via the Constitution, or not.

Checks and balances still come into play here as, while the Supreme Court has great power over the interpretation of the law via the Constitution, as well as final say in whether the law can be implemented, they are still held in check by the other two systems of government. The Legislative system promotes and creates the laws, have the power to create lower courts, as well as confirm the justices appointed to the Court, and decides the number of justices allowed in the Court. The Legislative system also holds the power to proceed with impeachment procedures on a Supreme Court Justice through the House of Representatives, with convictions happening in the Senate. The Executive system, namely the President, holds the power to nominate the justices for office, as well as veto the laws, and ensure that the laws are executed .

The power of judicial review came into play in the year 1803, when the case of Marbury v. Madison came before the Supreme Court. This case highlighted the use of checks and balances between the three systems of government, as then President Adams had selected William Marbury to act as Justice of the Peace of Washington, D.C. right before he left office. President Jefferson took office, and his newly elected Secretary of State, James Madison, refused to recognize Marbury’s position. Marbury took the case before the Supreme Court, where they set forth their supremacy of the law, and judicial review, and denied Marbury his commission .

The judicial review was extended further by cases such as Fletcher v Peck (1810) and Martin v Hunter’s Lessee. In the Fletcher v Peck case, which had arranged for 35 million acres to go to private investors in the year 1795: It was later discovered that the legislator’s that voted to grant the land had been bribed. Some of the land had been bought by John Peck, and was later sold to Robert Fletcher, and Fletcher later sued Peck for a breach of contract by claiming that the annulling of the original contract had cancelled Peck’s title to the land. The Supreme Court decided that the State of Georgia’s cancelling of the 1795 grant was unacceptable, because it violated the Constitution, thus furthering judicial review .

In Martin v Hunter’s Lessee (1816), it was stated that the Supreme Court had employed its authority over the state and lower courts for over twenty years when it was declared and unconstitutional infringement on state sovereignty by the Virginia Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court ruled that they are the supreme law of the land, and that it is the duty of the Supreme Court to guarantee that state interests do not supersede national interests and laws .

The Constitution founds the authority of the Supreme Court in Article III, Section II. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction, that is the ability to preside over suits involving two or more states, or suits/cases involving public figures such as prime ministers. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction, that is that they can hear appeals cases involving Constitutional/Federal Law .

By Federal law, a term for the Supreme Court begins on the first Monday in October, running until June, or even July. Each term is comprised of sittings, of which 22 to 24 cases are heard per sitting, and each case is permitted up to 30 minutes to plead their case/present their arguments. The justices are announced by the marshal at 10:00 am, and each justice sits according to their seniority, with the Chief Justice inhabiting the middle chair .

Recesses are when cases are not heard, allowing for the justices to deal with administrative matters. Opinions, otherwise known as written statements, are assigned by either the Chief Justice, if he/she voted with the majority, or by the senior justice who voted with the majority. Interpretations are when the justices interpret the Constitution, and render their decision. The interpretation involves the justices using sources to interpret the Constitution, as well as the technique in which they choose to interpret the Constitution .

I chose my textbook for research, as that is what we are learning from, and I chose from government websites about the judicial branch, especially that of the Supreme Court, because where better to learn from and research about the government, than from the government. I tend to go to the source, in general, for research purposes, so that I am not reading, and writing up, any false information.