The Function and Purpose of the Supreme Court

The Function and Purpose of the Supreme Court

( – The establishment of the Constitution also established the Supreme Court. Article III Section 1 states, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court,” and provides a Supreme Court the highest authority — but it wasn’t this text that established the details of that court. Here, judicial power means the power to interpret the Constitution, but this court does much more than that.

Establishing the Details

The Constitution not only established the Supreme Court but also gave authority to Congress to organize the details of the court. The original article allowed that the justices “…shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour…” as well. Congress used the Judiciary Act of 1789 to set the number of justices and create the lower court system. Then, there were six justices but today there are nine.

Section 2 of Article III gives this court “original jurisdiction” over cases between states and also over cases involving foreign entities. Otherwise, the Supreme Court hears mostly appellate cases concerning constitutional law and federal laws. In other words, one of the duties of this court is to decide whether or not a law is constitutional.

Duties of the Court

The Supreme Court does not hear every case brought to it. The Certiorari Act of 1925 allows the court to refuse a case, should they choose to do so. This allows this high court to focus on the most important cases, without the burden of cases that could be handled in other courts, or not at all. The most significant role of this court is the interpretation of laws to determine whether or not they are constitutional, but there are other duties.

The Court determines the details of some bonds, can implement stays on circuit orders as well as executions and has the power to stop a deportation. To decide on a hearing, at least six justices must be present. With only nine justices total, the two-party system is constantly looking to gain the majority of the seats.


Surprisingly, no law says a Supreme Court justice has to have ever been a lawyer. Even age and educational parameters are not defined by the Constitution. There is not even an application process. Instead, each justice is appointed by the sitting president. Then, the Senate conducts hearings to vet the candidate and vote on approval of the appointment. Once appointed, the justice may hold the seat for life, if they so choose, as long as they do nothing to be removed from the seat (such as committing treason).

As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court holds one of the most important positions in the country. Should any party hold the majority in the Supreme Court and Congress, with the president of the same party, they would have the ultimate say in the country.

Copyright 2020,