US Supreme Court Facts
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The Judicial Branch of the US Government just celebrated its 230th birthday on September 24th of this year (2019). In 1789, the very first United States Congress headed by John Adams passed an act that officially created the federal judiciary system. In honor of Article III of the US Constitution, which outlines the judicial power of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, Coolidge Law Firm would like to share a few fascinating Supreme Court and Judicial Branch facts.
1. The very first Supreme Court justices met in the Old City Hall in Philadelphia. Later, they met in the Capitol building’s basement in Washington. Their now, permanent home is the Supreme Court building in Washington DC, which was completed in 1935.
2. Taft was the only president to have also served as a Supreme Court Justice. After he served as the 27th President from 1909 to 1913, he was appointed the chief justice of the Supreme Court where he served from 1921 to 1930, when he died.
3. The Constitution does not limit the number of justices that congress can permit on the Court. Although there are currently nine justices, there have been as few as five in 1801, and as many as ten in 1863. Congress finally decided upon nine as the magic number when they passed the Judiciary Act of 1869.
4. Once appointed, Supreme Court justices serve lifelong terms. This may sound odd, but the reason the Constitution established this term was to differentiate it from the political Executive and Legislative branches, where those who hold office rely on elections to remain in office. This way, justices can focus on upholding the integrity of the US Constitution and not a political affiliation.
5. William O. Douglass was the longest-serving Supreme Court justice. He served 36 years and 7 months from 1939 to 1975. John Rutledge served the shortest tenure as a justice at one year and 18 days, from 1790 to 1791.
6. The Supreme Court is an appeals court, which means they don’t try new cases, only those that they believe may have Constitutional repercussions. There are an estimated 7,500 requests for review of cases sent to the Supreme Court in the United States each year. Only approximately 150 of those cases are actually reviewed by the Supreme Court.
7. Sandra Day O’Connor (1981-2006) was the first female justice to serve on the Court. Since then three other women (Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan.) have been appointed and are still currently on the Court.