History of the U.S Supreme Court
A Supreme Court is an entity that governs the conduct of individuals within a given state. It provides guidelines on how to solve disputes that may arise between people. In addition to providing amicable decisions, the Supreme Court also ensures that it has justified its decisions. The Supreme Court of the U.S plays a vital role; it outlines American culture and serves as a unifying factor. It also provides guidelines on how individuals opt to behave within the society (Raymond, 95). The Supreme Court of the U.S carries the role of interpreting the constitution. In interpreting the constitution, the Supreme Court also enforces the observance of the law.
The constitution of the U.S was drafted in 1787. In it, it outlined the role of the Supreme Court that had not yet been created. The congress of the US met in early March 1789 with one major aim, they had the intention of fulfilling the conditions outlined in Article III found in section 1 of their constitution. Article III of section 1 of the American constitution advocated for the judicial powers of America to be ordained to the Supreme Court and other minute courts that may be established by Congress in their daily meetings. The first congress managed to achieve this by declaring the observance of the Judiciary Act created in 1789 (Schwartz, 103). The Judiciary Act that was drafted in 1789 led to the establishment of 13 regional courts in main cities and three trial courts. It also led to the establishment of the Supreme Court that comprised the president of the Supreme Court (Chief Justice) and the other five Associate Justices.
The Judiciary Act of the year 1789 was signed by President Washington in late September 1789. President Washington was also the one who nominated John Jay from New York as the first Chief Justice. To meet the requirements of the Supreme Court, President Washington also came up with a list of persons namely; James Wilson, John Rutledge, William Cushing, Robert Harrison, and John Blair as Associate Justices. The nominees selected by the president were then vetted by the Senate before being sworn in as full justices. Thus, the first Supreme Court of the U.S comprised six members, the Chief Justice, and five other Associate Justices.
The Judiciary Act drafted in 1789 also gave an explanation of the powers of the Supreme Court. It allowed the Supreme Court to solve civil disputes and cases that were under the control of federal statutes. The congress of 1789 allowed the justices making up the Supreme Court to rule together with federal judges that presided matters on circuit courts in order to meet the high recommended number of judges in trial courts. Congress also allowed the Supreme Court justices to work in close association with federal justices in order to familiarize themselves with the matters of state courts (Warren, 83).
However, in the course of time, the Supreme Court of the U.S expanded. The Supreme Court expanded in order to meet the demands of the growth in a number of new circuits within the developing nation. The number of justices that made up the Supreme Court increased from 6 to 7 in 1807. Towards the end of 1837, the number of Supreme Court justices had increased to nine. However, the highest number of Supreme Court justices reached in 1863 as a result of the crop of the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit that was created due to the expansion of the West town led to the appointment of the tenth justice.
The constitution of the Supreme Court was reduced to seven in 1866 after long debates among the congress members. The number of the justices making up the Supreme Court kept shifting until 1869 when the number was agreed to be 8, a number that exists up to date.
Current format of the U.S Supreme Court
Just as in the past, the justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the president. The nominated justices then undergo senate vetting. The constitution of America also grants the senate the power of blocking any nominee by the president that fails in the vetting process. For instance, in 1987, Robert Bork, a Supreme Court nominee by President Reagan was blocked from working as a justice.
Currently, Congress is dominated by President Obama’s supporters. This has greatly influenced the composition of the Supreme Court in the U.S. Individuals such as Sotomayor being friends with President Obama were convinced of serving in Supreme Court members as justices. The current Supreme Court of the U.S is too political; the involvement of the president in nominating justices paves way for the inclusion of incompetent individuals to the Supreme Court. For instance, Sotomayor was nominated by President Obama to serve as one of the Supreme Court justices. However, the appointment of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court also portrays the essence of gender equality practice in the U.S Supreme Court. For the past many years, the Supreme Court of the U.S was dominated by men. Of the nine members of the Supreme justices, only one of them was a female.
The selection and vetting of individuals that serve in the Supreme Court are somehow ethnic. For the past many years, the nominated individuals by the presidents of America served as justices because of their close association with the presidents and the majority of the congress. Some of the justices in the past and early 1990s were appointed without going through any conformational process.
The current Supreme Court of the U.S is made up of John Roberts as the Chief Justice and the other six justices. Justice Robert was forwarded to the senate for verification by President Bush in 2005 after the death of Justice Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of that time. Justice Roberts is the youngest justice in the Supreme Court, thus, there is a high possibility that he will serve as the supreme justice for some coming years.
The associate justices included Justice Paul, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas, and Justice Ginsberg. Justice Paul Stevens is the oldest at 89 years. He is also the justice that has served in the Supreme Court for many years. He was appointed as a Republican. His decisions in Supreme Court are unpredictable; he does not allow political issues to sway his decisions. Justice Scalia, a Roman Catholic is observed by many individuals as a dynamic figure. He found his way to the Supreme Court after the retirement of Justice Burger that led to the promotion of Justice Rehnquist. On the other hand, Justice Kennedy succeeded vetting process after two denials of the justices nominated by President Reagan (Hall and Ely, 78). He was supported by all members of congress as a right justice. He is known as a swing vote justice because of his lack of making clear stands on decision-making.
On the other hand, Justice Thomas is the only black member of the Supreme Court in the U.S. He is known for his affirmative action standards. He plays a significant role in diversifying the activities of the Supreme Court. To fill the gap of lack of women in the Supreme Court, President Clinton nominated Justice Ginsburg as a Supreme Court justice. Currently, she is the only Supreme Court justice. She is remembered for her efforts in the court in defending the rights of women (Greenhouse, 97).
Justice Beyer was also appointed by President Clinton. He is one of the justices in the Supreme Court that thought and considered issues carefully before making decisions. Justice Samuel is the youngest justice in the U.S Supreme Court that was nominated by President Bush.
Changes in the U.S Supreme Court 8 years from now
In the next 8 years, great changes are expected to take place in the formation of the Supreme Court. There is the possibility of the court changing from its ideological structure to a liberal form. The majority of the aged Supreme justices will retire and pave way for new individuals as justices. For instance, Justice Ginsburg has turned 80 whereas Justice Kennedy and Justice Scalia will be turning 80 years in 2016. There is also a great possibility for political parties influencing the composition of the Supreme Court; the majority members in the congress are likely to favor nominees from their parties as justices. There is also a high possibility of the number of women increasing from two to three. The presence of two women in the Supreme Court will greatly influence the decision-making of the Supreme Court.
The vetting process is likely to diversify from the present practice. There is a great possibility of the opposition parties advancing their roles in the congress in order to enhance the success of the vetting process.
Greenhouse, Linda. The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Hall, Kermit and Ely, James. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Raymond, Carl. A basic history of the U.S. Supreme Court. New York: R. E. Krieger Pub. Co.,1979. Print.
Schwartz, Bernard. A History of the Supreme Court. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.
Warren, Charles. The Supreme Court in United States history, Volume 3. New York: Little, Brown, 1857. Print.