1. The judicial Powers
The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts and the congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
2. Importance of the Supreme Court
Bryce says, “No feature in the government of the USA has awakened so much curiosity in the European mind, caused so much discussion, received so much admiration, been more frequently misunderstood than the duties assigned to the supreme court and the functions it discharges in guarding the are of the constitution”.
3. Growth and adaptability of the Constitution
The Supreme Court has played a significant role in adapting the eighteenth century constitution to the space age needs of nuclear America. By putting a liberal interpretation it has facilitated the growth of the constitution without the necessity of formal amendment. Thus the Supreme Court has rendered remarkable service towards the growth of the constitution. The Supreme Court has declared laws unconstitutional not only on the basis that they were beyond the jurisdiction of a particular organ but also on the ground that they were remarkable or unjust.
In a number of cases the court has upheld the rights of the Negroes. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of freedom of religion. The Supreme Court has expanded its interpretation of the due process clause for the protection of civil liberties and restricted the protection given to property. The Supreme Court has issued writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, and certiorari injunction for the protection of the rights of the people.
4. Supreme Court is the Protector of Federation
It is the Supreme Court, which has satisfied the needs of the most industrialized country consisting of fifty states. Without a liberal interpretation by the Supreme Court, the US federalism might have failed in the time of growing industrialization and centralism. Thus t he supreme court of U.S.A proved to the the protector of the federation.
5. Third chamber of the legislature
It has been termed as a super legislature or a third chamber of the legislature. The supreme court of USA may safely be termed as the most autocratic political institution of America.
6. Organization of the Supreme Court
The constitution has not fixed the number of judges. As first constituted it consisted of a chief justice and five associates. Its membership was reduced to five in 1800; increased to seven in 1807; increased to nine in 1837 and ten in 1863; reduced to seven in 1866; and in 1869 it was fixed at nine. Today the Supreme Court consists of one chief justice and eight associate judges.
7. Appointments of judges of the Supreme Court
An attempt has been made almost invariably to select men of high prestige and outstanding ability. The caliber of the men selected has been high. The President is free to appoint any one for whom senatorial confirmation can be obtained. The rule of “senatorial courtesy” does not limit the choice of the President.
8. Sessions of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court holds one regular session every year beginning on the first Monday in October and ending early in the following June. Special sessions may be called by the chief justice. The court conducts hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, the judges confer among themselves and register their opinions. On Monday, judgments are delivered in public.
9. Tenure of the judges.
The judges are removable by impeachment only. A judge may retire at the age of seventy or at any time thereafter. He can retire with full salary provided he has served on the bench for ten years. He may retire at sixty five with fifteen years of service, and receive full pay for life.
10. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consults, and those in which a state shall be party. The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the congress shall make.
a. Original Jurisdiction
The dignity of the parties, i.e the ambassadors or the states demand that cases involving them should be lodged in the highest court in the sand since appearance before the inferior courts may lower their dignity. Generally asides involving question of constitutionality or otherwise commanding extraordinary importance are brought before the Supreme Court.
b. Appellate jurisdiction
That is, it hears appeals in case already decided and the appeal to the supreme court can lie only in those cases where the highest state court
i. has held invalid some state law which is alleged to be in violation of the federal constitution, of a law made by the congress, or of a treaty made by the United States;
ii. Has held invalid a federal law or treaty. Since 1914, the Supreme Court has been given discretionary power to review the decision of a state court if it sees fit, even when this decision has held a state law invalid on a question of federal right. Sometimes it consents to review such decisions, more often it declines.
c. No advisory Jurisdiction
The supreme court of America does not perform the advisory function. It acts only when a law has been violated and the matter is raised in a specific suit.