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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 Convention.

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 enforced.

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.

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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 balances."

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.

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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 branch).

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.

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4. How long do federal justices serve?
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 or her.

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?

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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.

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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 offices.

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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 the law.

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What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Discriminate: Treat unfairly

Executive: Presidential; branch of government that makes sure laws are obeyed

Impeach: To try to remove someone from office

Judicial: Belonging to a branch of government that makes sure laws are understood

Legislative: Lawmaking

Segregation: Separation of the races

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Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
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 Court.

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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.

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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."

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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

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e. What is judicial review?
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 branches.

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f. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
Sometimes people discriminate against minorities.

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.

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g. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

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More Valuable Information about the U.S. Supreme Court:
IMA Hero™ U.S. Government Bookstore
IMA Hero™ U.S. Supreme Court Photos & Links
IMA Hero™ Constitution of the United States Links
IMA Hero™ U.S. Government & Washington, D.C. Links

Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government for Kids (Government Printing Office)
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court Historical Society

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