Portal:Supreme Court of the United States

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Supreme Court of the United States Portal

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the judicial branch of the United States federal government. The Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. They are appointed to serve "during good behavior," which means for life, and leave office only upon death, retirement, resignation, or impeachment and subsequent conviction. The Supreme Court holds both original and appellate jurisdiction, with its appellate jurisdiction accounting for most of the Court's caseload. The Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C., in the United States Supreme Court building. The Court's yearly terms usually start on the first Monday in October and finish sometime during the following June or July. Each term consists of alternating two week intervals. During the first interval, the court is in session and hears cases, and during the second interval, the court is recessed to consider and write opinions on cases they have heard.

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Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Velazquez.
Legal Services Corp. v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 535 (2001), was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the constitutionality of funding restrictions imposed by the United States Congress. Justice Anthony Kennedy (pictured) wrote the majority opinion in the case. At issue were restrictions on the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a private, non-profit corporation established by Congress. The restrictions prohibited LSC attorneys from representing clients attempting to amend or challenge existing welfare law. The Court ruled that these restrictions violated the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because LSC facilitated "private" speech—that of its clients—the restrictions did not merely regulate government speech. Further, the nature of how LSC funds are distributed created a public forum, where the government's ability to regulate speech is highly limited. Because the restrictions excluded attempts to affect only a certain type of law, they could not be considered viewpoint-neutral, and the government is prohibited from making such viewpoint-based restrictions of private speech. Reactions to the decision were mixed within political circles, with Republicans and Democrats disagreeing on the propriety of the decision. In academia, there were more critical responses to the Court's holding. Several journals published articles that argued that the use of a 'distortion principle' to decide violations of free speech was unreasonable while others wrote that the Court mishandled the interpretation of the law at issue.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with the members of the Supreme Court and retiring justice David Souter
Credit: Steve Petteway, Supreme Court photographer. Credit Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States. Catalog number is 9397-001.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with the members of the Supreme Court and retiring justice David Souter.

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John Roberts
John Glover Roberts, Jr. (born January 27, 1955) is the 17th and current Chief Justice of the United States. He has served since 2005, having been nominated by President George W. Bush after the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He has been described as having a conservative judicial philosophy in his jurisprudence. Roberts grew up in northern Indiana and was educated in a private school before attending Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. After being admitted to the bar, he served as a law clerk for William Rehnquist before taking a position in the Attorney General's office during the Reagan Administration. He went on to serve the Reagan Administration and the George H. W. Bush administration in the Department of Justice and the Office of the White House Counsel, before spending fourteen years in private law practice. During this time, he argued thirty-nine cases before the Supreme Court. In 2003, he was appointed as a judge of the D.C. Circuit by President George W. Bush, where he served until his nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. When Chief Justice Rehnquist died before Roberts's confirmation hearings, Bush renominated Roberts to fill the newly vacant center seat.

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Laura Richardson
The story of Justice O'Connor's ascent to the United States Supreme Court is an inspirational one that reaffirms the power of hard work, determination, and fidelity to core values. Her service on the Court helped make our country better and fairer. Most importantly, through her successful career, she paved the way for female leaders throughout the arena of public service.

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