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Politics

Why Students Should Know About the Supreme Court

us-supreme-courtThe Supreme Court of the United States of America is one of the three branches of government. There are eight associate justices and one chief justice. The Supreme Court has been in existence since the Judiciary Act of 1789. It became an official organization in February of 1790. Their two primary duties are to interrupt the Constitution and settle disputes between states.

The Supreme Court was established from Article III of the Constitution. This branch’s objective was unknown at first, aside from keeping a legal check on the other two branches of government. The Supreme Court gained its power in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison. This case was about how James Madison attempted to stop last minute appointments by outgoing President John Adams. William Marbury was appointed by Adams and Congress right before Thomas Jefferson was to take over as President. James Madison saw this as unconstitutional. At the conclusion of the case, the Supreme Court ruled four to zero saying that Marbury should be granted his position but it was not up to the Court to force Madison to give it to him. This case was historic because it gave the Court the power to overrule an act of Congress based on the Constitution.

A case can end up before the Supreme Court in two ways. It is either through original jurisdiction or appellate jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction means that the Supreme Court is the only court to hear the case. Appellate jurisdiction means the Supreme Court is hearing a case once heard by a lower court and can either affirm or overturn a decision made by the lower court. In order for a case to be appealed to the Supreme Court, the appealing attorney must file a writ of certiorari. This is a formal request to the Court for the case to be heard.

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