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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States

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Introduction

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, including suits between two or more states and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution. Executive acts can be struck down by the Court for violating either the Constitution or federal law. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide non-justiciable political questions.

As set by the Judiciary Act of 1869, the Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices. Each justice has lifetime tenure, meaning they remain on the Court until they resign, retire, die, or are removed from office. When a vacancy occurs, the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints a new justice. Each justice has a single vote in deciding the cases argued before it; the chief justice's vote carries no more weight than any other. When the chief justice is in the majority, he decides who writes the opinion of the court; otherwise, the senior justice in the majority assigns the task of writing the opinion.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion
Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105 (2001), was a United States Supreme Court case decided in 2001. Anthony Kennedy (pictured) wrote the majority opinion. The case concerned whether the "section one exemption" of the Federal Arbitration Act applied to an employment contract of an employee at Circuit City Stores. The Court held that the exemption was limited to the specific listing of professions contained in the text. This meant that general employment contracts, like the one Adams sued under, would have to be arbitrated in accordance with the federal statute.

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President Barack Obama talks with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to her investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court September 8, 2009.
Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama talks with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to her investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court September 8, 2009.

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Thurgood Marshall

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John Marshall Harlan II
John Marshall Harlan (1899–1971) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1955 to 1971. His namesake was his grandfather John Marshall Harlan, another associate justice who served from 1877 to 1911. Harlan was a student at Upper Canada College and Appleby College and then at Princeton University. He continued his education at Balliol College, Oxford. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1923 Harlan worked in the law firm of Root, Clark, Buckner & Howland while studying at New York Law School. Later he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and as Special Assistant Attorney General of New York. In 1954 Harlan was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and a year later president Dwight Eisenhower nominated Harlan to the United States Supreme Court following the death of Justice Robert H. Jackson. Harlan is often characterized as a member of the conservative wing of the Warren Court. Justice Harlan was gravely ill when he retired from the Supreme Court on September 23, 1971. He died from spinal cancer three months later, on December 29, 1971. After Harlan's retirement, President Nixon appointed William Rehnquist to replace him.

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Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan, (Harvard Law Bulletin, 2005)

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