- Where Constitutional law is at issue
- Where Federal law is at issue
- Where a treaty is involved
- Where an ambassador is involved
- Where the case took place on the sea
- When the United States (or any state of the US) is sued or being sued
- When two states are suing each other
- When diversity jurisdiction exists
The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the U.S., and the highest court in any state.
Duties of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court can hear cases which involve the following:
Diversity jurisdiction means that two citizens from different states or different nationalities are having a dispute. Diversity jurisdiction exists because of the belief that a state court may favor its own citizens. For diversity jurisdiction to exist, the "amount in controversy" or the amount of money at stake in the lawsuit must be $10,000 or higher.
The Supreme Court can also hear appellate cases. In this way, it is unique of all federal courts. When the highest state court in a land makes a decision on an issue, the parties in that case can appeal the decision to the state court. This power exists under 28 U. S. C. §1251, the Judiciary Act of 1789, and two early cases from the 1800's called Martin v Hunter's Lessee, and Cohens v. Virginia.
Types of Cases Heard by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court accepts essentially no cases under original jurisdiction at this point in history. Instead, they address appellate cases almost exclusively. The Supreme Court does not hear all appellate cases; in fact, they only hear a small portion.
When a party is not happy with the results of a case at the highest level in the state court or to a federal district court, the party can request that the Supreme Court hear the case. This request is made through a writ of certiori, commonly or "cert" as it is commonly known.
The Supreme Court will decide whether or not to review the case when they receive the writ of certiori. Generally, the Supreme Court will review cases when a pressing Constitutional issue exists, or when states have disagreed on an interpretation of a law and they want to make a final ruling so that everyone will be clear on the law.
Process at the Supreme Court
After the Supreme Court has decided to hear a case, the two lawyers involved will argue the case. The party's or original plaintiffs don't need to attend and witnesses and such generally aren't necessary, since the Supreme Court doesn't change the decisions lower courts made about the facts of the case. They address only questions of law, so their decision is based on legal arguments about how the law should be applied.
When the Supreme Court makes a decision in a case, they write an opinion. This opinion contains the decision and reasoning behind why they made the decision and how the law should be applied. These cases become part of the common law of the United States. The cases become part of textbooks that are studied by law students, shape how laws and rules are applied, and govern people's behavior.
An example of Supreme Court is the court that made the final decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973.
- the highest U.S. federal court, consisting of nine judges: its decisions are final and take precedence over those of all other judicial bodies in the country
- the highest court in most states
nounAbbr. SC or Sup.Ct.
- The highest federal court in the United States, consisting of nine justices and having jurisdiction over all other courts in the nation.
- supreme court The highest court in most states within the United States. Also called high court .
(plural supreme courts)