The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial body in the United States, and leads the federal judiciary. The United States Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices, who are nominated by the President and confirmed with the “advice and consent” (majority vote) of the Senate. Once appointed, the Justices have tenure for life, serving during good behavior, which terminates only upon their death, resignation, retirement, or conviction on impeachment.
The U.S. Supreme Court physically meets in Washington, D.C. in the United States Supreme Court Building.
The Court is primarily an appellate court, but it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. The Court is sometimes informally referred to as the High Court.
US Supreme Court Officers
Court Officers assist the Court in the performance of its functions. They include the following individuals:
- Counselor to the Chief Justice
- The Clerk,
- The Reporter of Decisions
- The Librarian
- The Marshal
- The Court Counsel
- The Curator
- The Director of Data Systems
- The Public Information Officer
How the positions are officially appointed:
The Counselor to the Chief Justice is appointed by the Chief Justice. The Clerk, Reporter of Decisions, Librarian, and Marshal are appointed by the Court. All other Court Officers are appointed by the Chief Justice in consultation with the Court.
Constitutional Origin of the United States Supreme Court
Article III, §1, of the Constitution provides that “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 Supreme Court of the United States was created in accordance with this provision and by authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. It was organized on February 2, 1790.
According to the Constitution (Article III, §2): “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
“In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”
Appellate jurisdiction has been conferred upon the Supreme Court by various statutes, under the authority given Congress by the Constitution. The basic statute effective at this time in conferring and controlling jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be found in 28 U. S. C. §1251 et seq., and various special statutes.
Rulemaking Power of the Court
Congress has from time to time conferred upon the Supreme Court power to prescribe rules of procedure to be followed by the lower courts of the United States. See 28 U. S. C. §2071 et seq.
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