Getting to Know Your Supreme Court

The U.S Supreme Court has been in the news more lately with the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Could you name one of the nine Supreme Court Justices? That is exactly what wanted to know. They surveyed 1000 adults and two-thirds of those polled could not even name one. Only 1 percent could name all 9.

“‘This result is not especially surprising nor, by itself, should it be alarming,’ said Michael C. Dorf, a former Supreme Court clerk who currently teaches constitutional law at Cornell University Law School and authors a legal column for FindLaw. ‘Even though Supreme Court rulings can have a major impact on contentious issues such as the death penalty, abortion rights, discrimination and environmental protection, the Court issues its rulings as a collective body.’” [1] 

While some may not find these poll results disturbing, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the people in charge of making decisions that impact every American.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law.

The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed after impeachment.” [2] So, event though we don’t directly elect Supreme Court Justices, we do elect those who appoint them.

The current justices include:

  • John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States
  • Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice
  • Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice
  • Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice
  • Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice
  • Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., Associate Justice
  • Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice
  • Elena Kagan, Associate Justice

Click here to read full biographies of each justice.