Supreme Court

The Supreme Court operates as the highest court in the United States, and performs the functions of the legislative branch of the U.S. government. The men who drafted the Constitution of the United States wanted three separate, but equal components of the government to avoid any person or branch obtaining exclusive power.

Made up of nine Supreme Court Justices, the members of the Supreme Court include the Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices. The President nominates candidates for justice appointments who receive confirmation (or dismissal) based on the advice and consent of the Senate. Confirmed justices serve life terms unless they resign or are impeached and subsequently convicted.

The Supreme Court has the final word on the interpretation and application of the Constitution. They have original and appellate jurisdiction, with appellate jurisdiction making up the vast majority of their cases received on appeal from lower court systems.

While the Constitution stipulates no formal qualifications for Supreme Court justices, to date they have all served as lawyers with legal and political careers prior to their appointments to the Supreme Court.

Referred to as SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) or USSC (United States Supreme Court), they operate out of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. from October through June or July. They alternate hearing cases for two weeks and then writing opinions on cases heard for two weeks.