A History of Ideological Leanings of United States Supreme Court Justices

The justices of the Court are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. Introduction The United States Supreme Court is the highest federal court of the United States. Established pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution in 1789, it has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and state court cases involving issues[…]

Lincoln’s Appointment of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in 1864

Chase continued to pursue the presidency, seeking the Democratic nomination in 1868 and the Liberal Republican nomination in 1872. Introduction Salmon Portland Chase (January 13, 1808 – May 7, 1873) was a U.S. politician and jurist who served as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States. He also served as the 23rd Governor of Ohio, represented Ohio in[…]

Packing the Supreme Court with Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s

The Court was a ‘partisan creature’ and President Lincoln and the Republican Party remade it so that it reflected the party’s priorities. Introduction History shows that political contests over the ideological slant of the Court are nothing new. In the 1860s, President Abraham Lincoln worked with fellow Republicans to shape the Court to carry out[…]

A History of the Architecture of the United States Supreme Court

Initially, the Court met in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City. Building History “The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith.” These words, spoken by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in laying the cornerstone for the Supreme Court Building on October 13, 1932, express the importance of the Supreme Court[…]

The History and Traditions of the United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions. Introduction Established by the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court began to take shape with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and has enjoyed a rich history since its first assembly in 1790. The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions: Of the[…]

President Ulysses S. Grant and the Court Packing Controversy of 1870

Grant was accused with packing the court, the same charge later leveled against FDR in 1937. Introduction On April 10, 1869, Congress passed an act to amend the judicial system in part by increasing the number of Supreme Court justices to nine, to take effect the first Monday in December of that year. That act,[…]

The Chief Justice Who Elevated the Supreme Court into a Co-Equal Branch of Government

Before John Marshall, the Supreme Court had been a constitutional afterthought. No one in the founding generation left a more lasting imprint on American government and law than Chief Justice John Marshall. We remember Washington’s leadership, Jefferson’s eloquence, and Franklin’s wit, but Marshall breathed life into the Constitution, elevated the judiciary, and defended the federal[…]

An Overview of the Federal Court System and Judicial Process in the United States

Courts in the federal system work differently in many ways than state courts. Introduction Overview The federal court system has three main levels: district courts (the trial court), circuit courts which are the first level of appeal, and the Supreme Court of the United States, the final level of appeal in the federal system. There[…]