The Supreme Court (True Books, Government)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer
the Following Questions:
1. In what city did the Constitutional Convention
convene in May, 1787?
Philadelphia. On May 14, 1787, fifty-five delegates met at the
State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the Constitutional
At the time, the federal government was
following the laws established in the Articles of Confederation.
These laws created a weak federal government and could not be
Some of the delegates at the Constitutional
Convention were George Washington, James Madison, and Alexander
Hamilton. Washington was the General of the Continental Army during
the American Revolution, and he would later become the first President
of the United States. Madison would later write the Federalist
Papers and become the fourth President of the United States. Hamilton
believed in a strong federal government, and he would later write
the Federalist Papers and become the first Secretary of the Treasury.
Did you know
the Federalist Papers were a collection of 85 political essays
in favor of the Constitution? The essays stated federalism (a
strong central government) was the best safeguard of individual
rights and state sovereignty. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison,
and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers from 1787 to 1788.
After working for four long, hot months,
the delegates created a new plan for the government, called the
Constitution of the United States. The Constitution spells out
the powers of the federal government.
According to the Constitution, the federal
government is divided into three branches: the Legislative Branch,
the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The Legislative
Branch, called the Congress, makes the laws. The Executive
Branch is headed by a president who enforces the laws. This
means the executive branch makes sure the laws are obeyed. The
Judicial Branch interprets the laws which means it makes
sure the laws are understood.
The three branches of government serve
as "checks and balances" on one another. This means no branch
would have more power than another branch.
2. True or False: Federal
judges are called justices.
True. Justices interpret the law and make decisions on cases.
These decisions are called rulings, and they help people understand
the laws of the United States.
Article III of the Constitution only establishes
"one supreme Court." The "one supreme Court" is called the United
States Supreme Court. It is the highest court in the land when
deciding federal issues. The other courts are established by the
Congress (legislative branch). This is an example of "checks and
The Constitution did not establish how
many justices shall serve on the Supreme Court so the Congress
makes this decision. In 1789, there were six Supreme Court justices.
They were John Jay (Chief Justice), James Tredell, John Blair,
William Cushing, James Wilson, and John Rutledge. Between 1863
and 1866, there were ten justices. Since 1869, there have been
nine Supreme Court justices. One of the justices serves as the
head, and he or she is called the Chief Justice.
Each justice gets one vote, and the majority
rules. A majority vote could be 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, 6-3, or 5-4.
3. True or False: Supreme
Court justices are elected by the people.
False. Supreme Court justices are nominated (or chosen) by the
president and confirmed (or approved) by the Senate.
This is an example of "checks and balances."
The president (executive branch) chooses a Supreme Court justice
(judicial branch), and the justice is approved by the Senate (legislative
Did you know
Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court
justice? He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.
Did you know
Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman Supreme Court justice?
She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
4. How long do federal
They serve for life. Federal justices are appointed for life.
This means they can serve as a justice until they decide to retire.
However, the Congress has the power to remove a justice from his
or her job. This is called impeachment. First, the House of Representatives
must impeach the justice, and then the Senate must convict him
There are no requirements for becoming
a federal justice. Most justices are lawyers. Some have been members
of Congress, governors, or served in the Cabinet. Did
you know President William
Howard Taft was later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
5. What does the "v."
stand for in Marbury v. Madison?
Versus. Versus means against. Cases are named after the parties
involved. For example, in Marbury v. Madison, the parties were
William Marbury and James Madison.
6. In what city is the
United States Supreme Court located?
Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court building is located near the
U.S. Capitol, where the Congress meets. The Supreme Court building
includes the courtroom, several libraries, meeting rooms, and
7. When does the United
States Supreme Court convene?
From October to June. The Supreme Court hears about two hundred
cases from October to June. The Court's hours are from 10:00 a.m.
to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The justices listen to arguments by lawyers
for the cases, and then they meet to discuss how the case should
be decided. The justices' law clerks go to the libraries to research
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
Discriminate: Treat unfairly
Executive: Presidential; branch
of government that makes sure laws are obeyed
Impeach: To try to remove someone
Judicial: Belonging to a branch
of government that makes sure laws are understood
Segregation: Separation of the races
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. Which of the following Articles of the U.S.
Constitution establishes the Judicial Branch?
a) Article I
b) Article II
c) Article III
d) Article IV
The Constitution of the United States is made up of seven Articles.
The first three Articles describe the three branches of government.
Article I describes the legislative branch. It consists
of the U.S. Congress which contains both the House of Representatives
and the Senate. Article II describes the executive branch.
It consists of the President and Vice President. Article III
describes the judicial branch. It consists of the U.S. Supreme
b. Who was John Marshall?
He was the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court, and he served
from 1801 to 1835. Marshall was the chief justice during the case,
Marbury v. Madison in 1803.
c. Describe ONE of the
following Supreme Court cases:
Marbury v. Madison (1803): This case established
judicial review. William Marbury was a politician, and James Madison
was the Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson. In
this case, the Supreme Court ruled an act of Congress was unconstitutional.
The court called this power "judicial review." It was the first
time the Supreme Court had made such a determination. Marbury
v. Madison became one of the most important cases in history
because it gave the Supreme Court power to interpret the laws,
and determine whether they were constitutional. It is interesting
the Supreme Court gave itself this power!
Texas v. White (1868): The court ruled a
state remained a state in the Union even if it had rebelled against
the United States. After the Civil War (1861-1865), many cases
before the Supreme Court concerned states' rights. The issue in
Texas v. White was whether or not a state could declare
its independence from the Union. Texas argued it could declare
its independence because it had done so twice; once in 1836, when
Texas rebelled from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas, and
once during the American Civil War, when Texas and 10 other southern
states seceded from the Union. In the majority opinion, Chief
Justice Chase wrote it was illegal for a state to leave the Union,
and Texas had been a state, whether or not it had rebelled.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954):
The court ruled segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
Before the 1950's and 1960's, segregation was legal in parts of
the South. Segregation laws separated white people and black people
in schools, hospitals, and other public facilities. During the
Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's, the Supreme Court
made important decisions about civil rights. Did
you know Earl Warren was the chief justice during the
1950's and 1960's?
Miranda v. Arizona (1966): The court ruled
anyone accused of a crime must be told his or her right to remain
silent and his or her right to an attorney. Have you heard a police
officer read a person their Miranda warnings? It states, "You
have the right to remain silent. Anything you say could be used
against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you."
d. Name the current
nine Supreme Court justices.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
Justice John Paul Stevens
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice David H. Souter
Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
e. What is judicial
When federal courts decide whether a law violates the Constitution.
Judicial review is not specifically spelled
out in the Constitution, and therefore is not an "explicit power"
given to the courts. Rather, the Supreme Court articulated it
had the power to declare a law unconstitutional in its decision,
Marbury v. Madison (1803). This is known as an "implied
power." The Supreme Court argued judicial review is necessary
to provide "checks and balances" on the legislative and executive
f. Use five of the words
in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
people discriminate against
The head of the executive
branch lives in the White House.
It is very serious when a judge is impeached.
The judicial branch makes
sure our country's laws are understood.
The U.S. Congress is the legislative
branch of government.
There was segregation in the
South during the 1950's and 1960's.
g. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about the
U.S. Supreme Court:
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