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The Supreme Court

The highest court in the land.

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The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. It has the final say in legal cases. Once the Supreme Court judges an issue, its ruling becomes the law. To change this, the Court would have to make a new ruling, or Congress would have to pass a new law.

Article III of the Constitution set up the Supreme Court.


Judges on the Court are called “Justices.” Since 1869, there have always been nine justices on the Court. They all vote to decide the result of a case, making them like a jury.

All Justices are chosen the same way. They are nominated by the President, and then the Senate votes to approve or reject them.

Supreme Court Justices serve lifetime terms. That doesn’t mean that they have to stay on the job until they die, but they can’t be fired if the President or Congress don’t like their rulings.


Most cases are brought under the Court’s “appellate jurisdiction.” This is when a case has already gone through lower courts, but one side doesn’t agree with the result. They can then appeal to the Supreme Court for another chance to change the outcome.

It’s up to the Justices to decide which cases they want to take – but their decision is always final.


When deciding cases, a simple majority is needed for a ruling. This means the Justices vote on a ruling, and whichever side gets the most votes wins the case.

Justices on the Supreme Court can write their own opinion on a case, explaining what they think.

Before the COVID-19 epidemic, the Court heard all its cases at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. It began hearing virtual arguments when the pandemic broke out.

Scott D. Cosenza, Esq. is Legal Affairs Editor of and Scott writes extensively on legal issues and is the Policy Director for One Generation Away.

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