how the supreme court arrives at decisions

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How the Supreme Court Arrives at Decisions. Answers Unclear. While the words of the Constitution is binding, the meaning of it is vague and left to the Supreme Court for interpretation. . Society is Disturbed. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • While the words of the Constitution is binding, the meaning of it is vague and left to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

    The question of how to resolve problems often produces a sharp division within the Court.

  • Original Action: Conflicts between states or federal government.

    Review of Decisions made by federal Court of Appeals or federal District Court: - 11 federal Court of Appeals - 50 federal District Courts.Review of Decisions from a state court: - If judgment rested on a federal question.

  • It doesnt.

    The Supreme Court reviews between 150-170 cases (or around 6%) annually.

    Ultimately, for some cases, the court reaches a per curiam decision, or a decision without explanation.

  • -The most common way for the Court to put a case on its docket is by issuing to a lower federal or state court a writ of certiorari, or formal document that calls up a case.

    -Each application filed is a short petition with markings from rulings of lower courts and federal questions allegedly involved, argued their sustainability, and whether they were properly raised in lower courts.

  • Every Wednesday and Friday, the 9 justices meet in conference. It takes 5 justices to decide a case on merits, but only 4 to put the case on their agenda. This is known as the Rule of Four. Only the justices attend these conferences.

  • Chief Justice begins discussion of each case. Then the yields to the senior Associate Justice and continues down the line.Voting goes the opposite way beginning with the junior Justice.

  • -Oral argument occurs about 4 months after the case has been chosen for review - Sometimes, this time limit is cut in half.

    Counsels submit briefs 2 - 3 weeks before case is heard; a bench memorandum is usually prepared to highlight background info and questions to ask of case. - 2 weeks of argument Monday to Thursday, then 2 weeks of recess for opinion writing and study of petitions for review - Argued cases are listed on the conference agenda on Friday following argument - Conference discussions and discussions of centiorari petitions follow the same procedure

  • Some cases may take two or more conferences to reach a decision. - Discussion -> vote -> opinion in formal writing - Chief Justice assigns opinions in cases in which he has voted with majority; senior Associate Justice voting with the majority assigns opinions in others; dissenters choose who will write their opinions; each Justice can always include his/her argument. - Writing takes weeks, maybe months, because of additional research (laws, history, economics, social and natural sciences). - Copies of printed report are sent to all Justices.

  • The Justices review the printed report and make comments, will wait until dissenters finish their written argument - Sometimes, dissenters change their votes -> could change majority -> change final opinion


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