Commentary: Supreme Court Decisions

Article excerpt

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide approximately 80 cases during its 2006 term, which is the term that began in October and ends in late June or early July. The number is approximate, because the court often joins related cases together for one determination. Each case that is chosen for review is argued in writing and orally in front of the court in Washington, D.C.

The oral argument for all of the 2006 term cases ended yesterday Wednesday when the court was scheduled to hear oral argument on three cases. The first two cases were joined together because they both concerned the McCain-Feingold campaign reform act, as applied to an interest group and its use of corporate funds for financing so- called "electioneering communications," and the second case concerned whether someone being sued in state court can decide to have the case heard in federal court instead.

Generally cases end up in the Supreme Court if they involve matters that have the potential to affect a large number of people rather than just a few, and the cases must involve either federal law or the U.S. Constitution. In other words, your divorce,

no matter how wrongly decided, will never make it to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The federal district courts themselves hear tens of thousands of cases, so only a very small portion make it to the Supreme Court. After a federal court renders a decision and it is appealed to one of the 10 circuits the country is divided into, the losing party may ask the Supreme Court to look at the case. Part of the work the court does is looking at the thousands of requests for review that they get to decide which cases will be heard. It's a daunting task for the nine judges, called justices, on the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1, provides 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. …

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