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The U.S. Supreme Court (known officially as the Supreme Court of the United States or SCOTUS), is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the judicial branch of the U.S. federal government. The Court consists of nine Justices: the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices.


The Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. As federal judges, the Justices serve during "good behavior," meaning they essentially serve for life and can be removed only by resignation, or by impeachment and subsequent conviction.

The Supreme Court is the only court established by the U.S. Constitution (in Article III); all other federal courts are created by Congress:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as 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.


The Supreme Court holds both original and appellate jurisdiction, with its appellate jurisdiction accounting for most of the Court's caseload. The court's original jurisdiction is narrowly focused, as defined in Article III, Section 2 ("In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction"). The court's appellate jurisdiction encompasses "all cases" within the scope of Article III, but is subject to limitation by acts of Congress under the Exceptions Clause in Article III and by the discretion of the Court.

How it works[]

The Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C., in the United States Supreme Court building. The Court's yearly terms usually start on the first Monday in October and finish sometime during the following June or July. Each term consists of alternating two week intervals. During the first interval, the court is in session ("sitting") and hears cases, and, during the second interval, the court is recessed to consider and write opinions on cases it has heard.