(ConservativeUnit.com)- The United States Supreme Court is the highest federal court of the land. It was established in 1789 and appointments are governed by the United States Constitution.
There is a supreme court in every state, but the federal Supreme Court makes legislative rulings on a federal and national basis. The Court and the justices who serve on it are tasked with being the final arbiters of the law, ensuring that the Constitution is interpreted as it was intended and that the American people have equal justice under the law.
The Supreme Court is made up of the Chief Justice of the United States and several Associate Justices. The number of judges on the court is determined by Congress, though it is customary for there to be nine judges on the Court. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously recommended that the court maintain nine justices as she believed it was an effective number.
The role of the Supreme Court can be split up into roughly three sections.
1. Choosing Cases
Every year, the Supreme Court receives around 7,000 petitions. The Court chooses roughly 90% of the cases that will be heard.
If four justices vote to hear a case, then all nine justices will agree to vote on it.
The Court will usually only consider cases that have implications that would affect the whole country, rather than just the two parties involved in the case.
Every year, hearings start in October and the last cases will be held in June. Throughout this time, the justices will receive briefs and arguments from lawyers, and hearings will be open to the public. Both sides have 30 minutes to make their case to the justices, in which time the justices will ask questions and debate.
Once the public hearings are over, the justices will meet to discuss the cases privately. They will debate and vote. With nine justices, there is never a tie.
3. Implementing Decisions
Once the court has made a decision, the individual opinions of every judge are made public. A unanimous 9-0 vote means that all judges are in agreement but this typically doesn’t take place.
Supreme Court Justices release explanations for why each judge voted the way they did, with the majority opinion being prepared by the senior justice who voted that way, and the dissenting opinion will be produced by the judges who voted the other way.
The decision made by the court, however, cannot be implemented by the court. The Supreme Court may deem something unconstitutional, but it depends on the executive and legislative branches to act accordingly once the judgment is made.