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The Supreme Court

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What you need to know about. The Supreme Court. Facts. There are nine judges on the court The judges are called “ justices ” The main justice is called the “ Chief Justice ” Justices are appointed by the President and approved by the U.S. Senate They serve for life. The Current Court.

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Presentation Transcript
facts
Facts
  • There are nine judges on the court
  • The judges are called “justices”
  • The main justice is called the “Chief Justice”
  • Justices are appointed by the President and approved by the U.S. Senate
  • They serve for life
what cases
What Cases
  • They only hear cases that are brought to them by people who are unhappy with an earlier ruling (called “appeal”)
  • Of thousands of cases brought to them each year, they only hear about 50.
  • The cases always have something to do with the Constitution
  • The first name is always the person doing the suing (Plessy v. Ferguson)
oral arguments
Oral Arguments
  • The day of the “trial,” lawyers on each side present their arguments to the 9 justices (called oral arguments)
  • They each have about 45 minutes to make their case
  • Then the justices ask them a bunch of very hard questions to try to poke holes in their arguments
conference ruling
Conference/Ruling
  • After the oral arguments, the justices discuss the case
  • They vote who they think had the better argument. Majority rules
  • A unanimous decision would be 9-0, but this is rare.
  • Usually the decision is more like 5-4
opinions
Opinions
  • A justice is chosen to write the “opinion” of the court
  • If some justices disagree with the other justices they write a “dissenting opinion” (a protest)
  • If some justices agree with the majority, but for different reasons they write a “concurring opinion”
timeline
Timeline
  • Because these papers (the “opinions”) are sometimes 4o pages long and take months to write, decisions are usually announced several months after oral arguments
  • The term of the court goes from October to June
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