From the Constitution • The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. Article III, Section One
Function • The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. It is also the head of one of the three main branches of government: the judicial branch. The Supreme Court can rule laws and executive actions unconstitutional using the power of judicial review.
Judicial review • The Supreme Court exercises the power of judicial review, whereby it can declare acts of Congress or the state legislatures unconstitutional. Executive, administrative, and judicial actions also are subject to review by the court. • The doctrine of judicial review is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution; instead, it was articulated by Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803), in which the court struck down part of the Judiciary Act of 1789.
History • The Supreme Court was created by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as the head of a federal court system, though it was not formally established until Congress passed the Judiciary Act in 1789.
Jurisdiction • Typically, courts have either original jurisdiction or appellate jurisdiction. • The Supreme Court has both depending on the circumstances.
Original cases • Some cases can originate at the Supreme Court level, including cases involving diplomats, a dispute between the states or a case in which a state is involved – cases for which no other court is competent • Such cases must be taken by the justices • Only a few each year
Appeals • The Supreme Court has the power to decide if it will hear a case on appeal. If it does not choose to hear the case, the lower court ruling stands. If it hears a case, it can choose to uphold or overturn the lower court's ruling.
Caseload • The Supreme Court, which now enjoys almost exclusive discretion in determining itscaseload, hears about 100 cases per term, which begins by statute (set in 1917) on the first Monday in October and typically ends in late June. • Each year the court receives some 7,000 certiorari requests.
Justices • Currently, the Supreme Court consists of nine members, although this number is not set by the Constitution and can be changed by Congress: Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices • Justices are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They serve for life unless they retire or are impeached.
Chief Justice • The Chief Justice, as head of the United States Supreme Court, presides over the court during all private and public conferences and sessions. He or she sets the agenda for the court case "discuss list." Only those on the list will be considered. However, other justices can ask to have a court case included.
Other duties of Chief Justice • Decides who writes the majority opinion if he or she is in the majority. • Administers the presidential oath of office. • Presides over any presidential impeachment proceedings.
Removal from office • The US Constitution states that once confirmed by the Senate, a justice serves for life. However, they may retire if they wish. They can also be impeached and removed from the court if they do not maintain “good behavior.” Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached: Samuel Chase in 1805. However, Chase was later acquitted by the Senate.
Samuel Chase’s impeachment • In 1803 Chase got into trouble with the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans when he severely criticized their policies in front of a Baltimore grand jury. Chase explained that he objected to recent changes in Maryland law that gave more men the privilege of voting. Such changes as these advanced by Democratic-Republicans, Chase exclaimed, would rapidly destroy all protection to property, and all security to personal liberty, and our Republican Constitution [would] sink into mobocracy, the worst of all possible governments.… The modern doctrines by our late reformers, that all men in a state of society are entitled to enjoy equal liberty and equal rights, have brought this mighty mischief upon us, and I fear that it will rapidly destroy progress, until peace and order, freedom and property shall be destroyed.
Arguments • In 1804 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Chase on charges of misconduct and bias in the sedition cases and of seditious criticism of Jefferson in the 1803 Baltimore grand jury charge. • In 1805, Senate moved to impeach Chase. • Democratic-Republican senators charged that Chase had been guilty of judicial misconduct. Federalists defending Chase argued that he had committed no crime and that he could not be convicted under the constitutional definition of high crimes and misdemeanors.
The outcome • The Senate failed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to impeach Chase and he remained on the Court until his death. • The conventional wisdom regarding the outcome of Chase's impeachment—the only such proceeding ever brought against a U.S. Supreme Court justice—is that it showed that a judge could not be removed simply for taking politically unpopular positions.
Vocabulary • (writ of) certiorary – nalog višeg suda nižem da podnese izvješće i dokumentaciju o nekom predmetu (radi ispitivanja zakonitosti) • Judicial review - sudska revizija (ispitivanje zakonitosti presude) • Sedition – ugrožavanje sigurnosti države, pobuna