Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest federal court of the United States. In the legal system of the United States, the Supreme Court is the interpreter of federal constitutional law. The Court normally consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight justices who are nominated by the President. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they resign, retire, in modern discourse, the justices are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. Each justice has one vote, and while many cases are decided unanimously, the Court meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D. C. The Supreme Court is sometimes referred to as SCOTUS, in analogy to other acronyms such as POTUS. The ratification of the United States Constitution established the Supreme Court in 1789 and its powers are detailed in Article Three of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is the court specifically established by the Constitution. The Court first convened on February 2,1790, by which five of its six initial positions had been filled. According to historian Fergus Bordewich, in its first session, he Supreme Court convened for the first time at the Royal Exchange Building on Broad Street and they had no cases to consider. After a week of inactivity, they adjourned until September, the sixth member was not confirmed until May 12,1790. Because the full Court had only six members, every decision that it made by a majority was made by two-thirds. However, Congress has always allowed less than the Courts full membership to make decisions, under Chief Justices Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth, the Court heard few cases, its first decision was West v. Barnes, a case involving a procedural issue. The Courts power and prestige grew substantially during the Marshall Court, the Marshall Court also ended the practice of each justice issuing his opinion seriatim, a remnant of British tradition, and instead issuing a single majority opinion. Also during Marshalls tenure, although beyond the Courts control, the impeachment, the Taney Court made several important rulings, such as Sheldon v. Nevertheless, it is primarily remembered for its ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which helped precipitate the Civil War. In the Reconstruction era, the Chase, Waite, and Fuller Courts interpreted the new Civil War amendments to the Constitution, during World War II, the Court continued to favor government power, upholding the internment of Japanese citizens and the mandatory pledge of allegiance. Nevertheless, Gobitis was soon repudiated, and the Steel Seizure Case restricted the pro-government trend, the Warren Court dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional civil liberties. It held that segregation in public schools violates equal protection and that traditional legislative district boundaries violated the right to vote
United States Reports
The United States Reports are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. Opinions of the court in each case, prepended with a prepared by the Reporter of Decisions. For lawyers, citations to United States Reports are the reference for Supreme Court decisions. Following Bluebook, a commonly accepted citation protocol, the case Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, for example, would be cited as, Brown v. Bd. of Educ. The early volumes of the United States Reports were originally published privately by the individual Supreme Court Reporters, as was the practice in England, the reports were designated by the names of the reporters who compiled them, Dallass Reports, Cranchs Reports, etc. The decisions appearing in the entire first volume and most of the volume of United States Reports are not decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Instead, they are decisions from various Pennsylvania courts, dating from the colonial period, alexander Dallas, a lawyer and journalist, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had been in the business of reporting these cases for newspapers and periodicals. He subsequently began compiling his case reports in a bound volume and this would come to be known as the first volume of Dallas Reports. Dallas continued to collect and publish Pennsylvania decisions in a volume of his Reports. When the Supreme Court began hearing cases, he added those cases to his reports, starting towards the end of the volume,2 Dallas Reports. Dallas went on to publish a total of four volumes of decisions during his tenure as Reporter, when the Supreme Court moved to Washington, D. C. in 1800, Dallas remained in Philadelphia, and William Cranch took over as unofficial reporter of decisions. In 1817, Congress made the Reporter of Decisions an official, salaried position, in 1874, the U. S. government began to fund the reports publication, creating the United States Reports. The earlier, private reports were retroactively numbered volumes 1–90 of the United States Reports, therefore, decisions appearing in these early reports have dual citation forms, one for the volume number of the United States Reports, and one for the set of nominate reports. For example, the citation to McCulloch v. Maryland is 17 U. S.316
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger was a conservative, and the U. S. Warren Earl Burger was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1907 and his parents, Katharine and Charles Joseph Burger, a traveling salesman and railroad cargo inspector, were of Austrian German descent. His grandfather, Joseph Burger, had emigrated from Tyrol, Austria, Joseph Burger fought and was wounded in the Civil War, resulting in the loss of his right arm and was awarded the Medal of Honor at the age of 14. Joseph Burger by age 16 became the youngest Captain in the Union Army, Burger grew up on the family farm near the edge of Saint Paul. He attended John A. Johnson High School, where he was president of the student council and he competed in hockey, football, track, and swimming. While in high school, he wrote articles on school sports for local newspapers. That same year, Burger also worked with the building the Robert Street Bridge. Concerned about the number of deaths on the project, he asked that a net be installed to catch anyone who fell, in later years, Burger made a point of visiting the bridge whenever he came back to town. Burger attended night school at the University of Minnesota while selling insurance for Mutual Life Insurance, afterward, he enrolled at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, receiving his degree magna cum laude in 1931. He took a job at the firm of Boyensen, Otis and Faricy, now known as Moore, in 1937, Burger served as the eighth president of the Saint Paul Jaycees. He also taught for years at William Mitchell. His political career began uneventfully, but he rose to national prominence. He supported Minnesota Governor Harold E. Stassens unsuccessful pursuit of the Republican nomination for President in 1948, in 1952, at the Republican convention, he played a key role in Dwight D. Eisenhowers nomination by delivering the Minnesota delegation. After he was elected, President Eisenhower appointed Burger as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division of the Justice Department, in this role, he first argued in front of the Supreme Court. The case involved John P. Peters, a Yale University professor who worked as a consultant to the government and he had been discharged from his position on loyalty grounds. Supreme Court cases are argued by the Solicitor General, but he disagreed with the governments position. In 1956, Eisenhower appointed him to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and he remained on the Court of Appeals for thirteen years. In 1968, Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his retirement after 15 years on the Court, President Lyndon Johnson nominated sitting Associate Justice Abe Fortas to the position, but a Senate filibuster blocked his confirmation
William J. Brennan Jr.
William Joseph Brennan Jr. was an American judge who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1956 to 1990. As the seventh longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history, he was known for being a leader of the Courts liberal wing and he was known for his outspoken progressive views, including opposition to the death penalty and support for abortion rights. Due to his ability to shape a variety of opinions and bargain for votes in many cases. Justice Antonin Scalia called Brennan probably the most influential Justice of the century, on November 30,1993, Justice Brennan was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. Brennan was born in Newark, New Jersey, the second of eight children and his parents, William and Agnes Brennan, were Irish immigrants. They met in the United States, although both were originally from County Roscommon in Ireland and his father had little education, he worked as a metal polisher. However, he rose to a position of leadership, serving as the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Newark from 1927 to 1930, Brennan attended public schools in Newark, and graduated from Barringer High School in 1924. He then attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, while there, he joined Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Brennan graduated from Harvard Law School near the top of his class in 1931, when he was 21, Brennan married Marjorie Leonard, whom he had met in high school. They eventually had three children, William, Nancy and Hugh, after graduating from Harvard Law School, Brennan entered private practice in his home state of New Jersey, where he practiced labor law at the firm of Pitney Hardin. He entered the Army as a major in March 1942, and he did legal work for the ordnance division. In 1949, Brennan was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll, in 1951, Driscoll appointed him to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Brennan was named to the U. S. Supreme Court through an appointment by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Presidential advisers thought the appointment of a Roman Catholic Democrat from the Northeast would woo critical voters in the upcoming re-election campaign for Eisenhower, a Republican. Brennan gained the attention of Herbert Brownell, United States Attorney General and Eisenhowers chief legal affairs adviser, to Brownell, Brennans speech seemed to suggest a marked conservatism, especially on criminal matters. His nomination faced a small amount of controversy from two angles, Brennan filled the seat vacated by Justice Sherman Minton. He held the post until his retirement on July 20,1990, for health reasons, Brennan then taught at Georgetown University Law Center until 1994. With 1,360 opinions, he is only to William O. Douglas in number of opinions written while a Supreme Court justice
Potter Stewart was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. During his tenure, he made, among other areas, major contributions to criminal justice reform, civil rights, access to the courts, Stewart was born in Jackson, Michigan, while his family was on vacation. He was the son of Harriett L. and James Garfield Stewart and his father, a prominent Republican from Cincinnati, Ohio, served as mayor of Cincinnati for nine years and was later a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. Potter Stewart attended the Hotchkiss School, graduating in 1933, then, he went on to Yale University, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Skull and Bones graduating class of 1937. He was awarded Phi Beta Kappa and served as chairman of the Yale Daily News and he graduated from Yale Law School in 1941, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and a member of Phi Delta Phi. Other members of that era included Gerald R. Ford, Peter H. Dominick, Walter Lord, William Scranton, R. Sargent Shriver, Cyrus R. Vance, the last would later become his colleague on the United States Supreme Court. Stewart served in World War II as a member of the U. S. Naval Reserve aboard oil tankers, in 1943 he married Mary Ann Bertles in a ceremony at Bruton Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. They eventually had a daughter, Harriet, and two sons, Potter, Jr. and David and he was in private practice with Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati. During the early 1950s, he was elected to the Cincinnati City Council, at the age of 39, in 1954, he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Stewart to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Harold Hitz Burton and he was a recess appointment in 1958 before being confirmed 70–17 by the United States Senate on May 5,1959. All 17 nay votes came from Southern Democrats, Stewart came to a Supreme Court controlled by two warring ideological camps and sat firmly in its center. A case early in his Supreme Court career showing his role as the vote during that time is Irvin v. Dowd. Stewart was temperamentally inclined to moderate, pragmatic positions, but was often in a dissenting posture during his time on the Warren Court. Before the appointment of Warren Burger as Chief Justice, many speculated that President Richard Nixon would elevate Stewart to the post, Stewart, though flattered by the suggestion, did not want again to appear before—and expose his family to—the Senate confirmation process. Nor did he relish the prospect of taking on the administrative responsibilities delegated to the Chief Justice, accordingly, he met privately with the president to ask that his name be removed from consideration. Stewart opposed the Vietnam War and on a number of occasions urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari on cases challenging the constitutionality of the war, Stewart consistently voted against claims of criminal defendants in the area of federal habeas corpus and collateral review. He was concerned about broad interpretations of the due process and equal protection clauses and he was the lone dissenter in the landmark juvenile law case In re Gault. That case extended to minors the right to be informed of rights and the right to an attorney, Justice Stewart went on to defend the movie in question against further censorship
Byron Raymond Whizzer White won fame both as an American football halfback and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Born and raised in Colorado, White played in the National Football League for three seasons and practiced law for 15 years before his Supreme Court appointment, White was the Colorado state chair of John F. Kennedys 1960 presidential campaign. White was appointed to the Supreme Court by Kennedy in 1962 and he viewed his own court decisions as based on the facts of each case rather than as representative of a specific legal philosophy. He retired in 1993 and is the twelfth longest-serving justice in Supreme Court history and he was the first Supreme Court Justice from the state of Colorado. Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, White was the son of Maude Elizabeth and Alpha Albert White. He was raised in the town of Wellington, where he obtained his high school diploma in 1934. He joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and served as student body president his senior year. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1938, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford in England, after deferring it for a year to play pro football, he attended Hertford College, Oxford. During this time in England, he acquainted with Joe and John Kennedy. As a senior, White led Colorado to an undefeated 8–0 regular season in 1937 and he was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, behind Yale quarterback Clint Frank, and also played basketball and baseball at CU. The basketball team advanced to the finals of the inaugural National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in March 1938, White had originally planned to attend Oxford in 1938 and not play pro football. He was selected fourth overall in the 1938 NFL draft, held in December 1937, by the NFLs Pittsburgh Pirates, Oxford allowed White to delay his start to early 1939, so he accepted the Pittsburgh offer in August and played the 1938 season in the NFL. He led the league in rushing as a 21-year-old rookie and was its highest-paid player and he sailed to England in early 1939, with the intent of staying for three years. With the outbreak of World War II in late summer, White returned to the United States and he was admitted to Yale Law School in early October 1939, a week after classes began, and also played for the Detroit Lions in 1940 and 1941. In three NFL seasons, he played in 33 games and he led the league in rushing yards in 1938 and 1940, and he was one of the first big money NFL players, making US$15,000 per year. His NFL career was cut short when he entered the U. S. Navy in 1942, after the war and he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954. During the war, White served as an officer in the U. S. Navy. He had originally wanted to join the Marines, but was out due to being colorblind
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Courts 96th justice and its first African-American justice and he served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy. He was appointed as the Solicitor General by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 and he was approved by the Senate. Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 2,1908 and his original name was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood in second grade because he disliked spelling it. His father, William Marshall, worked as a porter, and his mother Norma, as a teacher, they instilled in him an appreciation for the United States Constitution. Marshall attended Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore and was placed in the class with the best students and he graduated a year early in 1925 with a B-grade average, and placed in the top third of the class. It is commonly reported that he intended to study medicine and become a dentist, but according to his application to Lincoln University, Marshall said his goal was to become a lawyer. Among his classmates were poet Langston Hughes and musician Cab Calloway, initially he did not take his studies seriously, and was suspended twice for hazing and pranks against fellow students. He was not politically active at first, becoming a star of the debating team, in his freshman year he opposed the integration of African-American professors at the university. Hughes later described Marshall as rough and ready, loud and wrong, in his second year Marshall participated in a sit-in protest against segregation at a local movie theater. In that year, he was initiated as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Marshall wanted to study in his hometown law school, the University of Maryland School of Law, but did not apply because of the schools segregation policy. Marshall instead attended Howard University School of Law, where he worked harder than he had at Lincoln, in 1933, he graduated first in his class at Howard. After graduating from law school, Marshall started a law practice in Baltimore. He began his 25-year affiliation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1934 by representing the organization in the law school discrimination suit Murray v. Pearson, in 1936, Marshall became part of the national staff of the NAACP. In Murray v. Black students in Maryland wanting to study law had to attend segregated establishments, Morgan College, whatever system is adopted for legal education must furnish equality of treatment now. At the age of 32, Marshall won U. S. Supreme Court case Chambers v. Florida,309 U. S.227 and that same year, he founded and became the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In total, Marshall won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court, during the 1950s, Thurgood Marshall developed a friendly relationship with J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1956, for example, he privately praised Hoovers campaign to discredit T. R. M, Howard, a maverick civil rights leader from Mississippi
Harry Andrew Blackmun was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 until 1994. Appointed by Republican President Richard Nixon, Blackmun ultimately became one of the most liberal justices on the Court and he is best known as the author of the Courts opinion in Roe v. Wade. Harry Blackmun was born in Nashville, Illinois, the son of Theo Huegely and he grew up in Daytons Bluff, a working-class neighborhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He attended the grade school as future Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. He attended Harvard College on scholarship, earning an A. B. summa cum laude in mathematics, while at Harvard, Blackmun joined Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and sang with the Harvard Glee Club. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1932 and he served in a variety of positions including private counsel, law clerk, and adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School and William Mitchell College of Law. Blackmuns practice as an attorney at the law now known as Dorsey & Whitney focused in its early years on taxation, trusts and estates. He married Dorothy Clark in 1941 and had three daughters with her, Nancy, Sally, and Susan, between 1950 and 1959, Blackmun served as resident counsel for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He would later describe his time at Mayo as his happiest time, in the late 1950s, Blackmuns close friend Warren E. Burger, then an appellate judge on the D. C. Circuit, repeatedly encouraged Blackmun to seek a judgeship, Sanborn, Jr. of the Eighth Circuit, whom Blackmun had clerked for after graduating from Harvard, told Blackmun of his plans to assume senior status. He said that he would suggest Blackmuns name to the Eisenhower administration if Blackmun wished to succeed him, after much urging by Sanborn and Burger, Blackmun agreed to accept the nomination, duly offered by Eisenhower and members of the Justice Department. Over the next decade, Blackmun would author 217 opinions for the Eighth Circuit, Blackmun was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Richard M. Nixon on April 14,1970, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 12,1970, by a 94–0 vote. He received his commission on May 14,1970, Blackmun was Nixons third choice to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Abe Fortas on May 14,1969. His confirmation followed contentious battles over two previous, failed nominations forwarded by Nixon in 1969–1970, those of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell, Nixons original choice, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. turned him down but later joined the Court in 1972. Blackmun, a lifelong Republican, was expected to adhere to an interpretation of the Constitution. The Courts Chief Justice at the time, Warren Burger, a friend of Blackmuns. The two were referred to as the Minnesota Twins because of their common history in Minnesota. Indeed, Blackmun voted with Burger in 87.5 percent of the divided cases during his first five terms, and with William J. Brennan
Lewis F. Powell Jr.
Lewis Franklin Powell Jr. was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Powell compiled a record on the Court and cultivated a reputation as a swing vote with a penchant for compromise. He retired from the Supreme Court after 15 years of service, Powell was born in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of Mary Lewis and Louis Franklin Powell, Sr. He attended Washington and Lee University, earning both an undergraduate and a law degree and he then received a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in 1932. He was elected president of student body as an undergraduate with the help of Mosby Perrow Jr. Powell was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Sigma Society. At a leadership conference, he met Edward R. Murrow, in 1936, he married Josephine Pierce Rucker with whom he had three daughters and one son. During World War II, he first tried to join the US Navy, after he was rejected because of poor eyesight, he joined the US Army Air Forces as an Intelligence officer. After receiving his commission as a First Lieutenant in 1942, he completed training at bases near Miami, Florida and Harrisburg and he was then assigned to the 319th Bombardment Group, which moved to England later that year. He served in North Africa during Operation Torch and was assigned to the Headquarters of the Northwest African Air Forces. There, Powell served in Sicily during the Allied invasion of Sicily, in August 1943, he was assigned to the Intelligence staff of the Army Air Forces in Washington, D. C. Slated for assignment as an instructor at the facility near Harrisburg and he was then assigned to the Intelligence staff of the Department of War and then the Intelligence staff of United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe. Powell was assigned to the Ultra project, as one of the designated to monitor the use of intercepted Axis communications. He advanced through the ranks to Colonel, and received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and he was discharged in October 1945. In 1941, Powell served as Chairman of the American Bar Associations Young Lawyers Division, Powell was a partner for over a quarter of a century at Hunton, Williams, Gay, Powell and Gibson, a large Virginia law firm, with its primary office in Richmond. Powell practiced primarily in the areas of law and in railway litigation law. He had been a member of Philip Morris from 1964 until his court appointment in 1971 and had acted as a contact point for the tobacco industry with the Virginia Commonwealth University. Through his law firm, Powell represented the Tobacco Institute and various companies in numerous law cases. Powell served as Chair of the American Bar Associations Standing Committee on the Economics of Law Practice from 1961 to 1962, during his tenure as Chair of the Committee, The Lawyers Handbook was first published and distributed to all attorneys who joined the ABA that year
Considered a conservative, Rehnquist favored a conception of federalism that emphasized the Tenth Amendments reservation of powers to the states. Under this view of federalism the Court, for the first time since the 1930s, the last 11 years of Rehnquists term as chief justice marked the second-longest tenure of a single unchanging roster of the Supreme Court, exceeded only between February 1812 and September 1823. He is the justice in Supreme Court history. Rehnquist was born William Donald Rehnquist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 1,1924 and he grew up in the suburb of Shorewood. Rehnquist changed his name to Hubbs, a family name. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Sweden, Rehnquist graduated from Shorewood High School in 1942. He attended Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio, for one quarter in the fall of 1942 and he served from March 1943 –1946, mostly in assignments in the United States. He was put into a program and assigned to Denison University until February 1944. He served three months at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City, three months in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and then went to Hondo, Texas, for a few months. He was then chosen for training program, which began at Chanute Field, Illinois. The program was designed to teach the maintenance and repair of weather instruments, in the summer of 1945, Rehnquist went overseas as a weather observer in North Africa. After the war ended, Rehnquist attended Stanford University with assistance under the provisions of the G. I, in 1948, he received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree in political science. In 1950, he attended Harvard University, where he received another Master of Arts and he later returned to Stanford, and graduated from the Stanford Law School in the same class as Sandra Day OConnor, with whom he would later serve on the Supreme Court. Rehnquist graduated first in his class, Rehnquist went to Washington, D. C. to work as a law clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson of the United States Supreme Court during the courts 1952–1953 term. Rehnquists 1952 memo, entitled A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases, Rehnquist said, I believe that the memorandum was prepared by me as a statement of Justice Jacksons tentative views for his own use. Justice Jackson did not ask law clerks to express his views and he expressed his own and they expressed theirs. That is what happened in this instance, however, the papers of Justices Douglas and Frankfurter indicate that Justice Jackson voted for Brown in 1954 only after changing his mind. However, Rehnquist acknowledged defending Plessy in arguments with fellow law clerks, several commentators have concluded that the memo reflected Rehnquists own views rather than those of Justice Jackson