United States Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States to interpret and decide questions of federal law. It is head of the Judicial Branch of the United States Goverment. The other two branches of the United States Government are the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch.

Currently nine justices are appointed for life by the President and confirmed by majority vote by the Senate. One of these nine serves as Chief Justice.

While the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in a few cases such as suits between states, most of its work consists of reviewing cases from state supreme courts or from lower federal courts, sometimes by direct appeal, but most often by petition for Writ of Certiorari. As with all federal courts, the jurisdiction of the court is limited in terms of who may be brought before the court (personal jurisdiction), and what claims may be made (subject-matter jurisdiction). Thus, for example, cases that arise from the state supreme courts may only be heard by the United States Supreme Court if they present an issue of federal law. Where the state case was decided on an independent and adequate state ground, the Supreme Court will not hear it.

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