A Civic Holiday for SCOTUS Enthusiasts: The First Monday in October

28 U.S.C § 2 states that “The Supreme Court shall hold at the seat of government a term of court commencing on the first Monday in October of each year and may hold such adjourned or special terms as may be necessary.”

And so the first Monday in October has become an unofficial civic holiday of sorts for followers of the United States Supreme Court. And so it seems only appropriate to spend some time discussing the history of the United States Supreme Court.

Article III, §1 of the United States Constitution states that “[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” The Supreme Court of the United States was created in accordance with this provision and by authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. It was organized on February 2, 1790.

Article III, §2 of the Constitution sets out the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and provides that

“The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;-to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;-to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;-to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;-to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;-between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

“In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

Under authority given to Congress by the Constitution, various statutes have been passed conferring appellate jurisdiction upon the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and 8 associate justices (the number currently fixed by statute in 28 U.S.C. §1).

Article III, §1 provides that “[t]he Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

The current justices of the United States Supreme Court include:

(1) Chief Justice John G. Roberts

(2) Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

(3) Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

(4) Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(5) Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer

(6) Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

(7) Associate Justice Sonio Sotomayor

(8) Associate Justice Elena Kagan

There is currently one vacancy on the Court. Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has been nominated by President Obama to fill that vacancy. The Senate has not yet voted to confirm Garland’s nomination. Article II, §2 of the Constitution states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court.”


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