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The Supreme Court

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  1. Chapter 18 .3 The Supreme Court

  2. What is the Supreme Court? • It is the highest court in the land • Interprets the Constitution • Judicial Review- the power to decide on the constitutionality of an act of the government • Established by the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison

  3. Jurisdiction Has both original and appellate jurisdiction Most cases are heard on appeals Chooses the cases it will hear

  4. Supreme Court Justices • Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate Judicial committee • Have usually held positions as federal or state judges, law professors, or scholars • Serve a life term, but may retire or be impeached

  5. Supreme Court Justices • Nine Justices “sit on the bench” • Chief Justice: John Roberts • Elena Kagan • Samuel Alito • Antonin Scalia • Anthony Kennedy • Sonya Sotomayor • Clarence Thomas • Ruth Bader Ginsburg • Stephen Breyer

  6. How a Case Reaches the Supreme Court The “rule of four”- four out of the nine justices must agree to hear the case “writ of certiorari”- an order for a lower court to send up the record in a particular case- to make sure an error has not occurred in the lower court. (appeal) A case may be granted a certificate by a lower court, asking the Supreme court to “certify” its’ answer

  7. Cost of Taking a Case Before the Supreme Court It’s expensive: $100 application fee and $300 scheduling fee to put the case on the calendar + Lawyer fees, cost of furnishing the records of the lower court… • But if you can’t afford it you can be declared: “informapauperis” in the manner of a poor person- the court waives the cost

  8. The Supreme Court at Work Briefs- written documents supporting one side of a case- submitted before the case is heard • Lawyers use precedent (previously decided cases that serve as examples) • Amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs- submitted by powerful interest groups as either a pro or con

  9. Oral Arguments- both lawyers present their case emphasizing major points made in their written briefs. • Solicitor General- represents the US governments in cases where it is a party • Lawyers have a limited time to speak and may be interrupted at any time by questions from Justices • Conference- After hearing arguments, the Justices meet in secret session to discuss in depth and vote on the cases they have heard

  10. Opinions • Opinions- Written expression of the judgment made by the Justices. These may influence future rulings of courts. Three forms:

  11. Opinions • Majority opinion- expresses the attitude and reasoning that the majority of the justices held. (This is the outcome of the case and will become a precedent- an example to be followed in similar cases) • Concurring opinion- written by justices supporting the majority opinion but explaining a different reasoning for the conclusion • Dissenting opinion- gives the reasoning of the justices that voted against the majority opinion