Five Things to Know About the Supreme Court

July 5, 2018
How the supreme court works infographic

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the country. It is composed of nine Justices who are responsible for deciding whether a law violates the Constitution. Brush up on your SCOTUS expertise with USAGov’s five facts to know:

  1. The Supreme Court used to meet in the U.S. Capitol building. SCOTUS and Congress shared the building when the nation’s capital was first moved to Washington, D.C. It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but it lasted more than 100 years. Justices heard cases in various chambers and committee rooms until the Supreme Court Building was completed in 1935.
  2. Anyone can be a Justice. The Constitution does not specify qualifications such as age, education, profession, or country of birth. Justices have ranged in age and six have served on the court despite being born outside the U.S. Every Justice appointed so far has been trained in the law.
  3. The court receives thousands of requests each year. SCOTUS receives between 7,000 and 8,000 requests to review cases every year, but only hears oral arguments for 70 to 80 cases. Four Justices must vote in favor in order for a case to be heard. Other requests are granted and decided without argument.
  4. Rulings can take months. Unlike courtroom TV shows where judges announce their ruling immediately, SCOTUS can take months to issue the Court's opinion. Justices hear or review a case, hold private conferences, make a decision, and then issue a ruling.
  5. Justices can only be removed from the court by impeachment. Justices are appointed for life, and they serve until their death, retirement, or removal in exceptional circumstances. Justices serve an average of 16 years.

Interested in learning more or teaching kids about the Supreme Court? Check out USAGov's “How the Supreme Court Works” infographic.

Back to Top

You might also like …

  • Have an Emergency Plan for Disasters

    Every minute counts during a disaster – plan now so you’re prepared. Know the risks about the different disasters and hazards that could affect you and your family where you live, work, and go to school.

  • USAGov's Guide to the Fourth of July

    Each year Americans celebrate what many call the “nation's birthday” with firework shows, parades, and patriotic ceremonies. Here’s USAGov’s list of ways to celebrate Independence Day.

  • Eight Steps to Patent Your Invention

    Have you invented something new, useful, and non-obvious, and want to patent it? Patenting an invention can be challenging, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can help.

  • USAGov's Fireworks Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

    Follow these tips when using fireworks to ensure you and your family have a fun and safe Fourth of July.

  • Recognize The Signs of Suicide and Find Help

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 15 to 34 in the United States, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Share This Page: Facebook Twitter Email

Back to Top

What you think matters!