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Just how did the Supreme Court form? How did it gain its power? The Supreme Court started in 1789 when the three articles of the constitution formed the development of a high-level court with lower level courts representing the legal system in its place. The Judiciary act signed in 1789 by President George Washington set the motion for how the Supreme court was to be organized. When the first six members of the court officially met for the first time on February 2nd, 1790 they did not preside over any cases; rather the members discussed the structure and organization of the court. The judges proceeded to make their first decision on a forgettable case on August 3rd, 1790 between a farmer and a family that individual owed money to.

For the next 100 years, judges were required to hold a circuit court 2 times a year. Given the travel conditions and limitations at the time, this was terminated by Congress. When it comes time to elect a judge to the board of Supreme Court judges, the President assigns the judge while the Senate may approve or reject the elected official. According to an article posted on history.com, “The highest judicial officer in the nation, the chief justice is responsible for presiding over the Supreme Court and setting the agenda for the justices’ weekly meetings. In cases where the chief justice is a member of the majority opinion, the justice has the authority to assign who will write the court’s opinion. The chief justice is required to sit on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.”

When the Supreme court started, it originally had 6 judges on the board. Throughout history, it changed anywhere from 5 members to 10 members. However, in 1869 the notion was changed to 9 members where it currently stands today. Some of the most important cases from the Supreme Court include but are not limited to the following:

  • “Mapp v. Ohio (1961), which held that evidence obtained illegally cannot be used in criminal cases.
  • Texas v. Johnson (1989), which found that flag burning and other potentially offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment.
  • Roe v. Wade (1973), which ruled that women have a right to an abortion during the first two trimesters.
  • U.S. v. Nixon (1974), which found that the President cannot use his or her power to withhold evidence in criminal trials.
  • Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down state anti-sodomy laws.
  • United States v. Windsor (2013), which revoked the U.S. government’s ability to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples.
  • Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage across all 50 states”