All About The Supreme Court

All About The Supreme Court

With the recent passing of the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there was a vacant spot in the Supreme Court that needed to be filled. Former federal judge Amy Coney Barrett was Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. After hearings where Amy Coney Barrett had to answer questions from members of the Senate, the highly controversial vote was held. Amy Coney Barrett narrowly won the vote by majority. As these highly publicized hearings went on, many people had a lot of questions and some of which still weren’t answered. Who exactly decides who gets to be in the Supreme Court? How many votes do you need? How do the trials work? What even is the Supreme Court? Well, let’s start with the basics.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. It is the most prominent part of the judicial branch, the branch that interprets laws. It decides on cases regarding federal laws that affect the whole country and the Constitution. The number of justices allowed is technically up to Congress, but there are currently supposed to be nine justices. These justices are nominated by the president and are confirmed by the Senate. When a new justice is approved, the job is theirs unless they die, retire, or are impeached and convicted by Congress.

The Supreme Court’s main power is the judicial review, which is the right to declare laws unconstitutional. However, they don’t review every law. There are other parts of the judicial branch that people get hearings from before the Supreme Court, such as state courts, federal district courts, courts of appeals, etc. The Supreme Court’s cases are almost always appealed from the highest state courts or federal courts of appeals. In most cases, you have to apply for certiorari or for them to “grant cert” which basically means for the Supreme Court to hear your case. If 4 of the 9 justices agree, then your case will be heard. Usually, they reject a lot of cases. In fact, of the approximately 7,500 requests for certiorari, only about 150 get heard.

When they actually do grant certiorari, they accept legal briefs from the parties to the case, as well as friends of the court. These “friends” can include trade groups, academics, or even the federal government. Before making a decision, they often hear spoken arguments from all parties involved. They present arguments and the justices ask questions. After that, they hold private conferences and release their decision.

To recap, we have learned about what the Supreme Court is, what they do, and how trials work. Now, you will also be able to understand the basics of the highest court in our great nation. You’ll probably want to, because now that the Supreme Court has its ninth justice again, they will return to trials and hearings very soon.