Sept. 24 – The First Supreme Court

GabeBell Ringers, Government(BR)

On Sept. 24, 1789 the Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by Congress after being signed by President George Washington, thereby establishing the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court makes up the highest tribunal in the country. It includes one Chief Justice and eight Associate justices. Cases and controversies concerning the Constitution and U.S. laws at the highest level are worked through at the Supreme Court.

Article Three of the United States Constitution established the judicial branch of the federal government. The role of the Chief Justice was determined by Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6, and the number of justices is fixed by statute at nine.

The Court has become increasingly political in recent decades. During the New Deal, a conservative Supreme Court overturned several of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s programs, and he tried to enlarge it to appoint justices more to his liking. Starting with the nomination battle over Robert Bork, the Senate has ceased to look merely at the qualifications of nominees, but rather increasingly makes judgements based upon how they are expected to rule in controversial cases. Until recently, a nominee required the support of at least 60 Senators – usually including both parties. Today, however, the rule requiring 60 votes has been changed, making each nomination a test of the unity of the two parties, rather than a discussion of the qualifications of the nominee being considered.

  1. How does the Executive Branch assign roles to the Judicial Branch?
  2. What checks are applied to the Supreme Court and the judicial branch?
  3. Below the Supreme Court are the 13 Courts of Appeals, and below the Appeals Courts is the 94 District Courts. In addition to this, each state has their own state Supreme Court. Do you believe this many courts are needed within the Judicial Branch? Why or why not? What are some benefits of our extensive judicial system?

Image Citation:

Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images.  10, April 2017, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy prepares to swear in Judge Neil Gorsuch [Digital photograph].  Retrieved from <>.