The Supreme Court


The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United States is located close to the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., where Congress meets. It is the highest court of the judicial branch. The Supreme Court’s session normally starts on the first Monday in October, and lasts for nine months.

In U.S. democracy, when a law is made, it requires approval by the legislative branch (Congress), and the executive branch (the President). The judicial branch, ensures that both Congress and the President follows, and does not exceed the authority of, the Constitution.

The Supreme Court does not rule on issues of fact except in disputes between states or with other nations. The majority of its work involves appeals of lower court decisions, generally involving issues of federal government authority vs. state authority.

There are nine justices that sit on the Supreme Court. They are appointed for life and currently the Chief Justice is John G. Roberts. The other justices are Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Mostly the justices have been white males. This changed in 1967 when Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American associate justice. The first female to sit on the bench in the Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor, in 1981. Justices are appointed and then confirmed by the Senate.

Chief Justice Roberts : “Those of us who have the high privilege of serving on the Supreme Court know that the Court has earned the respect of its nation’s citizens by adhering to the principles that motivated the United States’ Declaration of Independence, that find expression in its Constitution, and that continue to unite the American people. I hope that those revolutionary principles, which are the foundation of the United States’ enduring democracy, are a source of inspiration for nations throughout the world.”