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Since our countries inception and writing of the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court has been there to make difficult decisions of the United States. Initially created to resolve disputes between states, it hands down decisions that guide the country for generations. Issues such as whether abortion should be outlawed (Roe v. Wade), whether segregation should be outlawed (Brown v. Board of Education), or whether gays should have the right to get married (Obergefell v. Hodges) have been contested, but have ultimately been resolved by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was established in 1789 in the U.S. Constitution, The first Supreme Court consisted of six justices: John Jay, John Rutledge, William Cushing, James Wilson, John Blair, and James Iredell. The only official requirements to be a Supreme Court Justice is that one must be nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by a simple majority in the Senate. The Court’s initial purpose was to settle disputes between states and any dispute brought against an ambassador or diplomatic personnel (U.S. Const. art. III, § 2)
The Supreme Court gained the power of judicial review in 1803 with the ruling of Marbury v. Madison. This case was brought against then Secretary of the State James Madison when he, under the orders of then president Thomas Jefferson, refused to submit William Marbury’s commission to be judge. This case was tried in the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Jay found that even though Marbury should be confirmed, it was out of the original scope of the Supreme Court defined in the U. S. Constitution. This posed a problem though as the Judiciary Act of 1789 declared that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over cases involving persons holding office in the United States. As a result, the Supreme Court decided that it is able to strike down laws or provisions therein which are in direct violation of the Constitution (Urofsky, 2018). Thus judicial review was born.
According to the Supreme Court’s government website it receives, about eight thousand petitions each Term but only hears about 80 of them. (U.S. Courts, 2016) Why are so few cases heard? The process to get a case heard by the Supreme Court is daunting. The Supreme Court is the ultimate appellate court meaning that before a case can even be considered it has to go through the lower courts. If a case has already gone through the lower courts a party wishes to try to get an appeal then they file for a writ of certiorari, which is when the Supreme Court orders a lower court to deliver its records pertaining to a specific case so that the case can be tried by the Supreme Court (LII Staff, 2017). According to the US Courts government website in order for a writ of certiorari to be granted 4 out of 9 of the Supreme Court justices need to believe that the case is warranted to be heard and that a Supreme Court ruling will make a difference (U.S. Courts, 2017)
The current members of the Supreme Court are as follows: John G. Roberts, Jr., Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and the newest Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Though many things have changed in the United States, the requirements to be a Supreme Court justice is not one of them. As stated previously the official requirements to become a Supreme Court justice is to be nominated by the President of the United States, and to be confirmed by a simple majority of the Senate. Although there are not many official requirements the Supreme Court justices have all been over 40 and have primarily come from law schools such as Yale or Harvard (Hirby, 2016).
Even though the Supreme Court is the highest court, it is still wrought with controversy. Back in 2016, then Associate Justice Antonin Scalia had a heart attack and passed away. Then, to fill the void, President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. At the time then Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had told President Obama that no matter who he nominated, he would not get to pick the next Supreme Court Justice, and “No proceedings of any kind were held on Garland’s appointment” (Elving, 2018). After Donald Trump was elected to President of the United States, he proceeded to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who was then confirmed by Senate. Shortly thereafter, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was slated to retire. As such there was another void in the Supreme Court that needed to be filled. President Donald Trump nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to be confirmed as the next Justice. This event normally wouldn’t cause controversy, but someone from his past, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during their high school years. After a hearing by the judiciary committee, where many sources accuse Kavanaugh of perjury, a vote was held. By a vote of 51 to 49, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. These most recent issues show that not even the highest court is without controversy.
All in all, the United States Supreme Court has had a tumultuous history even from the start. Even though the people of the United States cannot always agree on how this country should be run there is one court in the land that is able to help us make decisions that we as a people are divided on. Hot button issues such as abortion, gay rights, and evolutionary education are vociferously debated, but in the end the Supreme Court will ultimately give us the solution that our country will follow.

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