The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Article III of the U.S. Constitution created the Supreme Court and authorized Congress to pass laws establishing a system of lower courts. In the federal court system’s present form, 94 district level trial courts and 13 courts of appeals sit below the Supreme Court
Current Supreme Court Justices
- Samuel Alito
- Stephen Breyer
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Elena Kagan
- Anthony Kennedy
- John Roberts
- Sonia Sotomayor
- Clarence Thomas
Why the 2016 Election Will Be One of the Most Pivotal Moments of Our Time
Every four years the political parties describe the impending presidential election as a historic event – and every once in a while it’s true
December 3, 2015 By Sean Wilentz – RollingStone
More than 150 years ago, in 1858, as the national crisis over slavery heightened, Abraham Lincoln famously remarked that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and that the “crisis” would be “reached and passed” only when the house divided would “become all one thing or all the other.” Now, the long conflict over social equality, political democracy and American government that began during the Progressive era, followed by the New Deal and the Great Society, is reaching its inescapable conclusion. If the Republicans win the presidency in 2016, they will also almost inevitably control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving them virtually unfettered command over the entire federal government to go along with their domination of the great majority of the state governments. The Republican president could easily be in a position to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court for an unstoppable right-wing majority that would last for a generation to come. Bush v. Gore, Citizens United and Shelby County v. Holder (the 2013 ruling that greatly weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act) would be merely the prelude to tilting political and social power. If, however, the Democrats win the presidency in 2016, they will almost certainly take back the Senate and make gains in the House – and the Democratic president will likely be able to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court that will eventually comprise a liberal majority. Between these two stark alternatives, there is no middle ground. In 2016, the country will become either one thing or the other.
How did we arrive at this decisive moment? Two powerful historic developments have driven American politics over the past half century. The Republican Party has been transformed by a conservative movement that has pushed it ever further to the right. The Democratic Party, stunned by the conservative counterrevolution, has struggled to reinvent itself and its politics, while facing the increasingly formidable resources of the right. These shifts are responsible for the polarization and dysfunction that have gripped American government since the 1990s. But they began in 1968.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79
Feb 13, 2016 By EMILY SHAPIRO – abcnews
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has died at age 79, two law enforcement sources told ABC News today.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said in a statement: “On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.”
Scalia died today in Texas of apparently natural causes, according to law enforcement sources. Father Mike Alcuino from the Diocese of El Paso administered last rites to Scalia this afternoon, a diocese official said.
Scalia, a conservative, was the longest-serving current justice on the Supreme Court. He was nominated to the court by President Reagan and took his seat Sept. 26, 1986.
GOP Moves To Block Obama From Naming Scalia Successor
February 13, 2016 ByTIERNEY SNEED – tpm
Almost immediately after the first public confirmation that Justice Antonin Scalia had died, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the GOP-controlled Senate would block President Obama from nominating Scalia’s successor.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
McConnell’s statement came as a chorus of conservatives called for the confirmation process to be delayed until the next President takes office in January 2017. Not longer after, Sen. Chuck Grassley — the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, through which Supreme Court nominations come through — also issued a statement that said “it only makes sense” to wait until the next president is elected to replace Scalia.
Minority Leader Harry Reid countered in his own statement Saturday that said the “Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible.”
“It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” Reid said. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
The move would deny President Obama the opportunity to name his third Supreme Court justice and potentially to change the court dramatically from a conservative to liberal majority.
The possibility of a Republican Senate thwarting a Supreme Court nomination for the remainder of Obama’s presidency sets the stage for a major political battle running parallel with the 2016 elections.