Now You Know

“God save the United States and this Honorable Court!”

And with those words…
the Supreme Court is in session!

We often talk about whether cases will reach the high court, so what does it really take to be heard by “the Supremes”?

Now You Know

Quick Basics

  • 9 Supreme Court Justices
  • All appointed by President and confirmed by Senate.
  • One of few jobs in government with a lifetime tenure.
  • “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” part of traditional calling of court to session.
  • Often called “the first Court still sitting” because so few changes since first meeting in 1790.
Now You Know


The Supreme Court *may* but rarely hears a case first before a lower court. Most of the time, the cases are an appeal from a decision made by a lower federal court or a state’s highest court.

…the Court accepts 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review each year.

Now You Know

50 pages: 30 minutes

4 of the 9 Justices need to agree to hear a case. If that happens…

  • Each side gets up to 50 pages to file a brief of their argument.
  • Each side gets up to 30 min to argue or answer questions by Justices in court.
  • Fun Fact: Outsiders can file briefs for consideration by Justices called “amicus (friendship) briefs.”
Now You Know

Underneath the entrance to the Supreme Court reads: "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" - something to remember as we wait to see what cases the Supreme Court may consider, including the latest state laws challenging existing federal abortion law.

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