Category: US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the United States and serves as the final interpreter of federal constitutional law.

Here are some FAQs about this important institution:

How many justices serve on the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is composed of nine justices: one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices.

How are Supreme Court justices appointed?

Justices are nominated by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by the US Senate.

How long do justices serve on the court?

Once confirmed, justices serve for life, unless they resign, retire, or are impeached.

What is the role of the Chief Justice?

The Chief Justice presides over the Court’s public sessions and also sets the agenda for the Court’s meetings.

How does the Supreme Court decide which cases to hear?

The Court receives thousands of petitions each year and selects a small percentage to hear. They typically choose cases that have national significance or address conflicting decisions from lower courts.

What is “judicial review”?

Judicial review is the Supreme Court’s authority to review and potentially invalidate governmental actions that violate the Constitution.

What is an “opinion” from the Court?

An opinion explains the decision of the Court regarding a particular case, including the legal reasoning behind the decision.

What’s the difference between “majority,” “dissenting,” and “concurring” opinions?

A majority opinion reflects the view of the majority of the justices. A dissenting opinion represents the viewpoints of the minority of justices who disagree with the majority. A concurring opinion agrees with the majority’s conclusion but for different reasons.

How has the composition of the Supreme Court changed over time?

Originally, the Court had six justices. It has fluctuated in size but has remained at nine justices since 1869.

Can Supreme Court decisions be overturned?

Yes, but it’s rare. Decisions can be overturned by future Supreme Court decisions or by constitutional amendments.

What is the Supreme Court’s term, and when does it convene?

The Court’s term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the end of June the following year.

Can I visit the Supreme Court?

Yes, the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., is open to the public, and oral arguments are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

What impact has the Supreme Court had on civil rights?

The Court has played a pivotal role in shaping civil rights in the U.S., with landmark decisions on issues like segregation (Brown v. Board of Education), interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia), and same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

How is the Supreme Court different from other federal courts?

The primary distinction is its role as the final arbiter of constitutional questions. While other federal courts can declare laws unconstitutional, their decisions can be appealed to and reviewed by the Supreme Court.