The Supreme Court

An Overview of the Supreme Court System

An Overview of the Supreme Court System

The
Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial organization in the
United States. The Supreme Court is the prime court of the Federal judiciary of
the nation.

The
Supreme Court is headed by the Chief Justice of the United States, along with
eight Associate Justices. The Justices of this Court are all nominated by the
President of the United States and then are confirmed by a vote of the United
States Senate.

Supreme
Court Justices, once appointed, have a life-long term in the position, which
can only be terminated in the case of death or retirement. Impeachment is also
grounds to remove a Supreme Court Justice.

The
Supreme Court is located in Washington, D.C. in the United States Supreme Court
Building. The Supreme Court essentially has jurisdiction over all Federal
matters, though the exact powers of the Court are more specifically outlined in
the United States Constitution. 

Constitution laws has more information about the
Supreme Court. 

The Judges of the Supreme Court

The Judges of the Supreme Court

The highest court is known as the Supreme Court, which was
established in 1789. John Rutledge, William Cushing, James Wilson, and John
Blair were amongst the first justices of the Supreme Court. While there are
individual Supreme Courts within states such as Maryland, Delaware,
Massachusetts, Maine, West Virginia, and New York, the Supreme Court of the
United States of America is considered to be the highest officiating body
within the United States, which makes up the Judiciary branch of the three branches
of government, in addition to the Legislative and Executive Branches. 

 

Currently, there are 9 Supreme Court Justices: one Chief Justice
and eight associate Justices. Currently, under President Barack Obama, the
following individuals make up the Supreme Court of the United States of
America:

 

1.       John G. Roberts (Chief Justice)

2.       Elena Kagan (Associate Justice)

3.       Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Associate Justice)

4.       Clarence Thomas (Associate Justice)

5.       Anthony Kennedy (Associate Justice)

6.       Stephen Bryer (Associate Justice)

7.       Antonin Scalia (Associate Justice)

8.       Sonia Sotomayor (Associate Justice)

9.       Samuel Alito (Associate Justice)


Court
laws
 has more information about the Supreme Court. 

Understanding Supreme Court Dockets

Understanding Supreme Court Dockets

The current
responsibilities faced by the Supreme Court at any given time are referred to
as the cases which are on the Court docket. In this regard, the caseload of the
Supreme Court is determined both by the current demand among legal petitioners
for the decisive judgment to be rendered through a Court decision and by the
practical demands of how the Justices can apportion this time. The recent
history of the Supreme Court has seen a steady increase in the number of cases
which are submitted to be placed onto the Court docket, though only a
relatively small percentage of these will ever be heard by the Court itself.
The Supreme Court provides for set procedures by which to place an appeal on
the Court dockets, by which it can decide which are the most worthy of the Court’s
attention and review.

An application to place a case on the Supreme Court
docket commonly occurs only after the same matter has previously been heard by
a court under the Supreme Court in terms of legal hierarchy, which is referred
to as an appellate court. The main procedure through which such a petition is
made is by a document called a writ of certiorari. The acceptance of such a
petition is initially enacted by the Court issuing a writ of cert, by which a
request is submitted to the relevant appellate court to inform the Court of the
case’s implications and pass along all applicable documents.

Generally
the Supreme Court will not move a petition onto the Court docket until the
lower court to which it should have first been submitted has already heard it,
but exceptions may be observed in cases considered to be of prime national
importance.

The Supreme Court also maintains separate court
dockets for the purpose of the individual Justices. These applications are not
made through writs of certiorari and are likely not to involve judgments on a
legal case as a whole, but rather a specific action, often for emergency
purposes, required in some case. The proper Court docket for such applications
is determined by which Federal circuit over which a Supreme Court Justice has
oversight.

The specific oversight over these Court dockets is
generally enacted by the clerks assigned to the Supreme Court. Each Supreme
Court Justice has specific clerks to assist her or him, and as a matter of
convenience will task some with reviewing writs of certiorari. This procedure
eases the pressure on the Court docket by sparing the Justices from the
necessity of establishing the groundwork of a case.

The increased demand placed on the Supreme Court
can be seen in the increased number of cases placed on its Court dockets. For
purposes of comparison, an observer might note that the Supreme Court docket of
1945 had 1,460 petitions and the docket in 1960, 2,313, while today the Court
dockets are given over to over 10,000 writs.

Assembly Explained

Assembly Explained

The
decisions which the Supreme Court has made on the issue of free assembly refer
back to the
 Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, which allows for the “right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances”. Many of the instances of political protest and dissent that
have occurred throughout American history, such as the civil rights movement
and the antiwar movement of the 1960s, have been placed for the purposes of the
Supreme Court under the heading of the right to freedom of assembly.

The room for
interpretation which exists toward this right exists in the requirement that it
be exercised “peaceably.” The assembly of protesters will also be
governed by the laws and regulations normally applied to citizens. The Supreme
Court and lower Federal courts have used the doctrine of “strict
scrutiny” to requires lawmakers to prove that a law or regulation is not
being targeted toward the right of freedom of assembly but has been passed to
accomplish a legitimate and demonstrable goal, as is adjudged to be a
“compelling” Government interest.

The high importance placed on the right of freedom
of assembly has meant that it has been upheld by the Supreme Court even in
cases involving demonstrations considered highly offensive or controversial by
the surrounding community. The Supreme Court found in the 1977 case of National
Socialist Party v. Skokie, for instance, that a planned Nazi march aimed at
upsetting the Jewish residents of a neighborhood could be allowed as a
permissible form of assembly. This right can generally be upheld in regard to
the content of the assembly unless it contains messages specifically
threatening violent or otherwise criminal actions.

Related
issues have also been dealt with by the Supreme Court in regard to the
contemporary anti-abortion, right-to-life movement, noted for assembling
outside of abortion clinics. In order to provide for the safety of staffers and
visitors to these facilities, the Supreme Court may allow for requirements that
the assembly of protesters take place at a certain distance from the clinic.

The rights of minors in regard to freedom of
assembly have also been addressed by the Supreme Court. Minors are considered
more vulnerable than adults and thus are often placed under a greater degree of
State control in order to provide for their protection. The Supreme Court has
shown, however, that it expects any laws that are passed toward this end to
also provide, as much as they can, for the need to honor rights such as that to
the freedom of assembly. Laws must thus be addressed “narrowly”, in
regard to a wide array of issues, to show that they are needed and intended for
a particular end.

The Supreme
Court drew on this requirement in the 1969 case of Shuttleworth v. Birmingham
to remove a city ordinance for parades, finding that this law gave too much
discretion to the responsible officials and thus raised the possibility that
the law would be used to infringe on rights to free assembly.

What You Need To Know About Press

What You Need To Know About Press

The 1964 case New York Times v.
Sullivan
 is generally considered one of
the most significant developments in the broadening of the freedom of the press
for the decision which the Supreme Court made on it. The case arose from an
advertisement printed by
 
The New York Times advocating for Martin Luther
King, Jr. and containing statements against the Montgomery, Alabama police
force. Alabama officials who felt offended by the advertisement brought a libel
action against the newspaper.

The Supreme Court found in
favor of the press organization, holding that for libel to be proved the
complainant would have to show that the press had possessed “actual
malice” in reporting facts which they knew to be untrue. This ruling thus
established a new yardstick to which public figures and government figures
would have to measure up to in pressing libel suits against the press. It also
generally acted to expand the right to freedom of the press.

Prior to this ruling, much of
the press felt constrained by libel laws from reporting as fully as they would
have liked on civil rights issues and protests in the South, fearing that the
states in question might sue them for their reporting. The law thus expanded
the ability of the press to widely cover the civil rights issue and other
controversial topics.

Federalism: Role on State Powers

Federalism: Role on State Powers

Federalism was a political ideal that was used to explain the system by which the Government is separated into a central governing body as well as various State powers in accordance with the United States Constitution. Over the years, federalism has had its shifts in terms of the focus of power, as certain eras called for an increase in central governing power, while earlier events such as the aftereffects of “Shays’ Rebellion” led people to demand more State power in connection to the Federal Government. This rebellion stated apparent deficiencies within the central government.
Therefore, the United States Government, with its foundation within that of federalism, operates by power being shared between states as well as the Federal Government. An example would be that, despite individual State law, an individual may appeal to Federal courts for assistance.
The United States Constitution sets forth the exclusive powers of both the national Government as well as State governments in addition to their combined shared powers. These powers were set forth for the express use of the national Government alone to include the following specifications: It is responsible for the creation of currency, declaring of war, establishment of the military, entrance into treaties with foreign governments, regulation of State and international trade and commerce, establishment of post offices as well as issuing of stamps, and the creation of laws to ensure the enforcement of the United States Constitution.
In order to be more specific, the Federal Government, though adhering in accordance to the Constitution, may have interpretations ascertained so broadly so as to extend their power very closely to that of the State. For example, Congress possesses vast financial authority, such as the jurisdiction over taxes and spending, in order to compensate for debts as well as the protection and welfare of the United States population. In addition, it possesses authority over citizenship with a broad reach encompassing it. The Federal Government essentially provides the definition by which individuals may pursue citizenship.
In reference to State power, another list of specifications exists. States are solely responsible for the creation of their local governments, issuing of licenses, regulation of intrastate commerce, conducting of elections, ratification of Constitutional Amendments, ensuring of public health and safety, as well as is connected to the institution on laws on legal drinking ages, for instance. Authority that both State and national governments share include: establishment of courts, creation and collection of taxes, construction of highways, creation and enforcement of law, chartering of banks and companies, and the use of money for the good of all people. Other examples of state power include that of “police power”. This is due to the fact that there is no mention of such authoritative power within the United States Constitution. Thus, we may assume its uniqueness to that of State power alone.
As we have seen, federalism has instituted a way in which states may acquire some basis of authority in relation to the Government, the most recent form being that which had emphasized “states’ rights” as set forth by Reagan and taken in by the latest Bush in office, that which was called “New Federalism”.

Supremacy Clause Defined

Supremacy Clause Defined

The Supremacy Clause is that which derives from Constitutional law and sets forth that three distinct areas of legislation be at the forefront. It states that the Constitution, Federal statutes, and United States treaties encompass the “supreme law of the land”, therefore making them the highest areas of law possible within the legal system of America. The Supremacy Clause may be found in Article VI, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.
A landmark case representing one of the earliest examples of the use of the Supremacy Clause is that of McCulloch v. Maryland. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the State of Maryland had no legal right to tax the Second Bank of the United States as a Federal entity. This exhibited how the Supremacy Clause called into question the actions of the State, and therefore, made it so that the State could not legally tax the Federal Government.
Another case that made use of the Supremacy Clause in connection with Constitutional law was that of Missouri v. Holland. This Supreme Court case was conducted over the cause of international treaties. The Court ruled that the power of the Federal Government to enforce treaties overrode that of the State’s authority to voice concerns as to the violation of their local rights as prescribed from the 10th Amendment.
This Amendment was used by the Supreme Court following the Civil War and stated that states assumed the rights to powers not already set forth for the Federal Government. This did not last long, however, as everything was shifted to the Government to have vast national power, which meant that the Federal Government could not be subject to State law aside from by its own volition.
In addition, the Supremacy Clause also maintains that State legislatures assume, in one way or another, the guidelines and procedures set forth by the Federal Government. This is due to the presentation of two issues that stem from State and Federal conflict. These include Congress’ surpassing of its original authority as well as its overall intent in going over that of State policy. In both cases, Congress may be acting with the express authority of creating uniformity of legislature. In such a way it may be attempting to enable the coexistence of Federal and State government. 
A case that highlighted such issues of Federal law presuming power over State action is that of Pennsylvania v. Nelson. In this case, the Supreme Court instituted qualifications for when the Government does encroach upon the rule of states, even when absent of apparent intent. These include that the Federal law is so extensive that states may not be able to adequately supplement it, the fact of the “Federal interest’s dominance,” and whether “State law” is in so much of a contrast to the Federal administration that it may only do harm to it. Such cases represent the ways in which the Supremacy Clause has been employed.

The Short Biography of George Washington

The Short Biography of George Washington

From
1789-1797 George Washington served as the first President of the United States
of America. Washington is regarded as the “Father of the United
States” for his numerous achievements, most notably his role as commander
of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War and his unyielding efforts to
formulate a unified and efficient country. Washington’s intelligence, charisma,
and military experience made him perhaps the most successful and revered
general in United States history.

Aside from
his remarkable accomplishments, Washington’s achievements went beyond the war,
extending to the formation of America and the creation of the United States
Constitution. Although his closest advisers (Thomas Jefferson and Alexander
Hamilton) respectively positioned themselves within the Anti-Federalist and Federalist
sanctions, George Washington never affiliated himself with a political party.
The first President of the United States believed that political parties would
create stagnation and the creation of opposing sides would impede the
collective goals of the country. 

In regards
to the creation of the Constitution, George Washington must be held separate
from his fellow Founding Fathers. During the Revolution Washington was busy
fighting and leading armies to victory over British factions. The “Father
of the United States” was tangled in a war, while his fellow intellects
were busy contemplating the future and structure of the United States Government.

That being
said, in a popular George Washington biography-The Real George Washington-it
was revealed that the first President was quite skeptical over the creation of
a Constitution. In the George Washington biography he is quoted as saying,
“I almost despair of seeing a favorable issue to the proceedings of the
convention, and do therefore repent having any agency in the business.”

George Washington’s uneasiness in regards to the
Constitution stemmed from a bipartisan sentiment. The goal of finding
compromise, of pleasing both contrasting parties, seemed beyond arduous. Washington
had similar fears to prominent Anti-Federalist Party members. He believed that
America should be reticent towards the creation of a federal government and
avoid similar tyrannous actions imposed by the British Parliament. Washington
eventually agreed to preside over the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 and
oversee the drafting of the United States Constitution.

The first
President felt as though the original Articles of Confederation severely lacked
in finding an appropriate balance of powers. In addition, events such as Shay’s
Rebellion and the crippling effects of war enlightened George Washington to the
need of a functional and powerful central government. Through the George
Washington biography his sentiments over an empowered federal government became
transparent. Washington, who was a general at heart, believed that the army
needed proper funding and stability to perform its critical duties.
Washington’s biggest fear was a nation with a weak heart, one that could be
taken over with an effortless assault.

Following
the adoption of the Articles of Confederation, George Washington was viewed as
the leader of the newly found America. Due in large part to his heroic military
efforts, he was lauded as an exemplary Republican and true warrior. Although
not intended to join the Constitutional Convention, Washington was unanimously
selected as President. Washington rarely participated in debates, but as the
need for a national President grew, the delegates of the Constitutional
Convention were all aware of the appropriate choice. George Washington received
100% of the electoral vote and assumed the role as President in 1789.
Immediately upon entering office, his support and prestige convinced the 13
states to unanimously ratify the American Constitution.

 

The

The

The
“War Powers Clause” resides within Article I, Section 8 of the United
States Constitution. This clause sets forth Congress’ legal right to declare war
when necessary. In relation to the exercising of war powers, it is estimated
that five known wars have been declared under the authority of the United
States Constitution. These include: War of 1812, Spanish/American War,
Mexican/American War, WWI, and WWII. The Mexican/American War, however, is
often not recognized in reference to a legitimate and genuine declaration of
war since it actually occurred during the time following already heated
animosity amongst both sides. Therefore, the United States did not need to
actually declare war, but to only acknowledge its existence to the public at
hand. Still others believe it did constitute a declaration as is proved by
various legal documents attached to its occurrence.

Accompanying such authority to declare war,
however, many believed that such power could and would be abused if not
adequately regulated. In addition, war powers, in general, seemed to be at
opposite ends from each other. Congress possessed the power to declare war,
maintain the military and funding for war, as well as still held responsibility
over the inception of laws. The President, however, maintains authority on all
other aspects, such as defense against impending attacks against the country,
existing as the head of the military, the power to grant/veto bills, and
equally has the authority to declare war.

Due to these
growing concerns, Congress went forward to pass the “War Powers
Resolution” in 1973. This resolution entailed that the Commander in Chief
acquire a war declaration or resolution granting the application of force from
Congress within a time period of 60 days of the inception of such animosities.
This acquisition must be accompanied by a complete conveyance of pertinent
facts to the Acts and procedures as well.

The War Powers Resolution, however, has not been
without its own share of serious criticism. Most presidents subsequent to it
have made claims as to its unconstitutionality in relation to its imposition
upon the authority of the Commander in Chief of the United States. There are
questions as to how it places boundaries on the president’s power prior to even
obtaining a war declaration from Congress as well, thus bringing even more
questions as to its constitutionality.

Two
additional arguments that have been posited include the need for adherence to
democracy to do away with such covert policies as well as the potential for a
violation of the “Separation of Powers
Clause. Congress has still maintained the “Necessary and Proper
Clause” as the basis for its authority in such a case, however. This Clause
specifies that Congress possesses the power to institute all laws necessary as
well as to adhere to the authority set forth by the United States Constitution.
This conflict of interests represents an area which may only be examined in
times of war, however. Therefore, it will remain an object of contention while
issues loom on the horizon.

Wiretapping Overview

Wiretapping Overview

Wiretapping may be described as the way in which conversations may be taken or recorded without persons having knowledge of such seizure. This is achieved by way of the use of electronic devices, for instance, which transmit the sound to other locations.
The advent of wiretapping may be traced back to the late 1800s when police departments began such practices. Traditionally, wiretapping occurred by way of identifying the appropriate lines and then placing a “tap” upon it in order to connect it to an additional device that would allow for others to listen.
Two early Supreme Court cases dealt with such a Constitutional issue. In 1928, Olmstead v. United States possessed a ruling that held that phone-tapping did not actually run in violation to the Fourth Amendment, which banned illegal search and seizure. The Court specified their reasoning being that it was not unconstitutional as long as police did not encroach upon the property of the individual being tapped. This was highly contested, though, in relation to the ideals that protection of privacy had pursued. This ruling did hold up for many years following its institution, however.
In 1967, this ruling was finally overturned in the Supreme Court case of Katz v. United States, which provided the arena for such change. The Court ruled that, in reference to a citizen’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” that they are entitled to under the United States Constitution, the Federal Government must possess a warrant for wiretapping practices.
In addition to these Supreme Court rulings, Congress also went forward with modifications done to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. In general, only wiretaps granted by court were legally viable. This entailed a specific list of offenses as outlined by the Supreme Court. A time period of up to 30 days is required as the maximum length of a wiretap. The wiretap’s subject of interest must also be divulged within the time frame of 90 days.
Toward the end of the 1900s, Congress broadened the law’s reach in terms of wiretapping to that of mail via the internet. The Act instituted was the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, also known as the Wiretap Act. This statute made it unlawful for the reading of an individual’s private email. There has been much concern over this Act, however, as this Act did not prevent the Government from obtaining data from online service providers. Therefore, despite such an Act, the privacy of individuals on the internet was still not completely guaranteed.
The 21st Century has also presented us with additional issues to consider, such as that of former President Bush’s employment of wiretaps on the “war on terror” without the possession of warrants. He cited Article II of the United States Constitution as the basis for his authority. Congress had accused the President of “breaking the law” in his authorization of the wiretapping of actual United States citizens, for instance. They may cite the Fourth Amendment alone to such an end. Despite this, however, it has been noted that a great majority of wiretapping requests have been permitted as opposed to a select few that were denied.