In recent years, the Supreme Court has been in the news thanks to the socially charged cases that have been presented to the court. In many ways, the judicial branch of the federal government has changed the course of history through its decisions. Here’s a brief look at the history of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Beginnings and History of the Supreme Court
Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution gives the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially when questions of constitutionality arise. The court was also designated to oversee cases regarding treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice and maritime jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act of 1789, signed by president George Washington, established the Supreme Court with one chief justice and five associate justices. On February 1, 1790, the first session of the SCOTUS was held in the Royal Exchange Building in New York City with John Jay serving as the first Chief Justice.
After several changes of venue, including a brief stint in Independence Hall during Philadelphia’s tenure as the nation’s capital, the Supreme Court found its permanent home in 1935, when the permanent U.S. Supreme Court building was constructed across the street from the US Capitol Building at 1 First St. NE in Washington, D.C. According to the Constitution, the number of justices is set by Congress, and it varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine.
The Court’s Effect on United States History.
The U.S. Supreme Court grew into the most important judicial body in the world thanks to its central position in the American political order. In times of constitutional crisis, the nation’s highest court has always played a definitive role in resolving the great issues of the time. The high court also plays a major role in the protection and advancement of individual rights, especialy in cases like Brown vs. Board of Education, Roe vs. Wade, and in our lifetime, Obergefell vs. Hodges, which struck down state bans on same-sex marriages.
The Supreme Court of the United States has been and will continue to be a crucial aspect of our federal government. For a more in-depth look at the history of the Supreme Court, go to www.supremecourt.gov or www.supremecourthistory.org.