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									The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book
Author: David L. Hudson
Table of Contents

ORIGINS OF THE FEDERAL
COURT SYSTEM . . . 1

SUPREME COURT
RULES, PRACTICES,
AND TRADITIONS . . . 21

SUPREME COURT
TRIVIA . . . 41

THE JAY, RUTLEDGE, AND
ELLSWORTH COURTS
(1789–1800) . . . 61

THE MARSHALL
COURT (1801–35) . . . 77

THE TANEY COURT
(1836–64) . . . 99

THE CHASE COURT
(1864–73) . . . 117

THE WAITE COURT
(1874–88) . . .127

THE FULLER COURT
(1888–1910) . . . 147

THE WHITE COURT
(1910–21) . . . 177

THE TAFT COURT
(1921–30) . . . 197

THE HUGHES COURT
(1930–41) . . . 219

THE STONE COURT
(1941–46) . . . 247

THE VINSON COURT
(1946–53) . . . 265

THE WARREN COURT
(1953–69) . . . 279

THE BURGER COURT
(1969–86) . . . 321

THE REHNQUIST COURT
(1986–2005) . . . 367

THE ROBERTS COURT
(2005–PRESENT) . . . 409

JUSTICES OF THE
U.S. SUPREME COURT 429

THE CONSTITUTION
OF THE UNITED STATES 435
RESOURCES 453
INDEX 457
Description

From the origins of the court to modern practical matters—including the federal judiciary system, the
Supreme Court’s session schedule, and the argument, decision, and appeal process—this resource
provides detailed answers on all aspects of the Supreme Court. Exploring the social, cultural, and
political atmosphere in which judges are nominated and serve, this guide book answers questions such
as When did the tradition of nine justices on the bench begin? When did the practice of hiring law clerks
to assist with legal research and writing begin? and How do cases reach the Supreme Court? Details on
historic decisions—including Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, and
Bush v. Gore—accompany a thorough history of all 17 Supreme Court Chief Justices.
Excerpt

ORIGINS OF
THE FEDERAL
COURT SYSTEMCREATION OF THE COURTHow was the U.S. Supreme Court created?
Article III, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution provided that “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 Constitution was adopted in 1787 and ratified in 1788. However, the
Constitution did not create the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress passed a law known as the Judiciary Act
of 1789, which created the Court and established its jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act of 1789 called for six
justices on the Court—a chief justice and five associate justices.Does Article III call for a chief justice?
Ironically, Article III does not mention a chief justice at all. It only mentions that there will be “one
supreme court.” However, Article I, Section 3, mentions a “Chief Justice” when talking about the
impeachment of a president. It reads: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice
shall preside.”Where was the Constitution itself created?
The U.S. Constitution was created during the summer of 1787 at a meeting of fifty-five delegates whose
assigned job was to propose revisions to the Articles of Confederation, the authoritative document of the
existing government, which did not provide enough power for a central government. The delegates actually
went beyond their job duties and created an entire new Constitution during a process that author
Catherine Drinker Bowen called “the Miracle at Philadelphia.” This process culminated on September 17,
1787, when thirty-nine men signed the new document. Various states then ratified the Constitution in
1787 and 1788 that put the Constitution into effect.What is the structure of the Constitution?
The Constitution features seven sections, called articles. The first three articles deal with the powers of
the three branches of government. Article I deals with the legislative branch (Congress), Article II deals
with the executive branch (the president), and Article III deals with the judicial branch (the court
system).The Constitution features a system of separation of powers and checks and balances among the
three branches of government. For example, Congress passes
legislation but the president can veto (or stop) the legislation, which Congress can then override by a
super-majoritarian vote of two-thirds. This means that if a president vetoes a piece of legislation, the law
can still be enacted if two-thirds of the members of Congress vote to override the presidential action.
However, the judicial branch can then declare a law unconstitutional if it determines that it is not
compatible with the Constitution.When did the framers consider a separate judicial branch?
Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph, later the nation’s first attorney general, introduced the so-called
Virginia Plan, which called for the creation of a federal judiciary, on May 29, 1787. The Virginia Plan
called for Congress, not the executive branch, to appoint judges.Under the Constitution, who appoints
Supreme Court justices?
The Constitution provides that the president...
Author Bio
David L. Hudson
David L. Hudson is a first-amendment scholar for the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.
He is a contributing editor to the American Bar Association’s Preview of U.S. Supreme Court Cases and
the author of The Rehnquist Court. He lives in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Reviews

An accessible history in Q&A format, replete with trivia.



For a lay audience of inquisitive people, David Hudson Jr.’s Handy Supreme Court Answer Book is
remarkably comprehensive and fascinating. Where else could you find out the identity of the tallest
justice on the high court?



For students, teachers, lawyers, and history buffs, this reference provides answers to many questions
about the Supreme Court from its origins in 1789 to the present.

								
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