Our government is made up of three branches. The three branches of the United States government are the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. According to the doctrine of separation of powers, the United States Constitution distributed the power of the federal government among these three branches and built a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one branch could become too powerful. This is a long-standing system that has served the United States well, as long as it isn’t being abused.
The judicial branch came into being when The Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. Sometimes I’m not sure how I feel about the “until death or retirement” part, but I’m sure they had their reasons. To me, there are some justices, like some members of congress who far outstay their welcome. Nevertheless, on that day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice. He further named John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the US Senate, and with that, we had our first Supreme Court.
The US Supreme Court was established by Article 3 of the US Constitution. Article 3 granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which their constitutionality was at issue. In addition, the high court was also designated to oversee cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice, and maritime jurisdiction. The first session of the US Supreme Court was held on February 1, 1790, in New York City’s Royal Exchange Building.
The US Supreme Court quickly grew into the most important judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the American political order. The Constitution allows Congress to set the size of the court…another part of the system that I don’t think I agree with, simply because a corrupt congress could take advantage of that ability by stacking the courts to rule in their favor. I’m sure that Washington and the founding fathers planned for the justices to be honest and trustworthy. I’m sure too, that the fact that they were Supreme Courts justices for life or until retirement, was planned to allow them to make their rulings without fear of being fired. Of course, there is more that one way to get a justice removed, because dead can come by more than one means, including murder. And justices could be threatened or have their families threatened, causing them to vote in a specific way. In a perfect world, justices would act according to the Constitution, and vote their conscience, bringing about an honest and fair ruling, but that is not always the case…sadly. The number of justices varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine. While this number can be changed at any time by Congress, so far, it has not, and I believe that the Constitution should be amended to make the number nine, permanent. In times of constitutional crisis, the Supreme Court has always played a definitive role in resolving, for better or worse, the great issues of the time, and the number nine has worked well. It should not be changed.