|Chief Justice||Year Appointed||President|
|John G. Roberts Jr.||2005(CJ)||Bush(CJ)|
|Associate Justices||Year Appointed||President|
|Anthony M. Kennedy||1988||Reagan|
|Clarence Thomas||1991||George H.W. Bush|
|Ruth Bader Ginsburg||1993||Clinton|
|Stephen G. Breyer||1994||Clinton|
|Samuel A. Alito Jr.||2006||G.W.Bush|
The 11 U.S. presidents since World War II have appointed 28 Supreme Court members. Republicans 17, Democrats 11.
George W. Bush
Barack H. Obama
-The power of the courts to declare laws invalid if they violate the Constitution.
-The supremacy of federal laws or treaties when they differ from state and local laws.
-The role of the Court as the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution.
-The Constraints of the Facts: Courts cannot make a ruling unless they have an actual case brought before it. The facts of a case are the relevant circumstances of a legal dispute or offense. The Supreme Court must respond to the facts of a dispute.
-The Constraints of the Law: Among the legal constraints in deciding cases, the Supreme Court must determine which laws are relevant. These include; interpretation of the Constitution, interpretation of statutes, and interpretation of precedent.
Among the political influences on Supreme Court Decisions are:
-"Outside Influences" Such as the force of public opinion, pressure from interest groups, and the leverage of public officials.
-"Inside Influences" Such as justices' personal beliefs, political attitudes, and the relationship between justices.
1) There are cases in which the US Supreme Court has original jurisdiction (heard there first). Cases in which a state is a party and cases dealing with diplomatic personnel, like ambassadors, are the two examples.
2) Those cases appealed from lower federal courts can be heard at the Supreme Court. Some laws obligate (or force) the Supreme Court to hear them. But most come up for review on the writ of certiorari, a discretionary writ that the court grants or refuses at its own discretion. The writ is granted if four of the justices want it to be heard.
3) The US Supreme Court reviews appeals from state supreme courts that present substantial "federal questions," usually where a constitutional right has been denied in the state courts.
In both civil and criminal law, the Supreme Court is the final court of
-Some states have two appellate levels, and others have only a single appellate court. States vary in the way they organize and name their courts, but they usually give some lower courts specialized titles and jurisdictions. Family courts settle such issues as divorce and child-custody disputes, and probate courts handle the settlement of the estates of deceased persons. Below these specialized trial courts are less formal trial courts, such as magistrate courts and justice of the peace courts. These handle a variety of minor cases, such as traffic offenses, and usually do not use a jury.
-Cases that originate in state courts can be appealed to a federal court if a federal issue is involved and usually only after all avenues of appeal in the state courts have been tried.
-In 1990 there were over 88 million cases heard at the state trial courts
throughout the U.S. One hundred and sixty seven thousand cases were
appealed at the next level, while sixty two thousand made it to the
state courts of last resort.
There are 12 general appeals courts. All but one of them (which serves only the District of Columbia) serve an area consisting of three to nine states (called a circuit.) There is also the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in appeals of decisions in cases involving patents, contract claims against the federal government, federal employment cases and international trade.
Go see recent Federal Courts of Appeal decisions.
Between four and twenty six judges sit on each court of appeals, and each
case is usually heard by a panel of three judges.
Courts of appeals offer the best hope of reversal for many appellants,
since the Supreme Court hears so few cases. Fewer than 1 percent of the
cases heard by federal appeals courts are later reviewed by the Supreme Court.