Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!

Study Break

The Supreme Court reconvened this week to start another term. So get your black robes on, get into a judicial frame of mind and learn some fun facts about the highest court of the land.

Get up to speed on what is on the docket this year, which promises plenty of historic decisions. Cases related to gerrymandering (Gill v. Whitford), immigration (Jennings v. Rodriguez), religious belief and commerce (Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), the Bill of Rights (Carpenter v. United States; Collins v. Virginia), economy (Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro), and much more will be heard.

The first Justice to be fully vested as a member of the Supreme Court was James Wilson, who took his oaths on October 5, 1789.

There have been 113 Supreme Court Justices, which includes the newest member, Neil Gorsuch.

The justice who served the longest was William O. Douglas, who clocked in at 13,358 days (April 17, 1939 – November 12, 1975). The justice with the shortest tenure was Thomas Johnson, who had a measly 163 days (August 6, 1792 – January 16, 1793) when he resigned due to poor health.

The Supreme Court decided – for once and for all – that a tomato is…a vegetable, at least for trade.

The Supreme Court has been in its current location only since 1935, following 11 separate moves.

Did you know that the Supreme Court was technically a road show? The justices really did “ride the circuit” and hear cases around the country. That was a sticking point with some justices, who didn’t like to travel extensively. The requirement meant justices of the Supreme Court were mandated to preside once a year over the circuit courts located throughout the country. The requirement wasn’t technically lifted until 1891.

The top floor of the Supreme Court building houses a gym, including a basketball court dubbed “the highest court in the land.”

Think the Supreme Court changed presidential election history with Bush v. Gore (2000)? Think again – the 1876 presidential election was particularly controversial too.

Which pending case do you think your students will be most interested in during the 2017-18 term? Ask your students to create a list of potential nominees and vote in your class!