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How the Supreme Court Arrives at Decisions

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AP gov

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of How the Supreme Court Arrives at Decisions

Consensus Needed
Answers Unclear
Constitution created broad principles rather than details
Few cases in which the constitutional answer is clear
The Court must resolve the conflicts of competing interests
Petition and Reason
Application for review is in the form a short petition with the lower courts opinions attached.
Adversary may file a response.
Each Justice receives copies of the petition and review and without consultation, decides to accept or deny the application.
Takes five Justices to decide a case on the merits.
Each Side Gets Hour
Oral arguments occur about 4 months after the application for review is granted.
Each party is allowed one hour
Most justices have a bench memorandum prepared before the argument highlighting matters they might want to question the counsel
Some Change Minds
resolution of fundamental questions
based on understanding of responsibility and importance of Supreme Court decision
How the Supreme Court Arrives at Decisions
Society is Disturbed
Order of Seating
Opinion Assigned
Uniform Rule
Painful Accusation
Division created in court

Three Kinds of Cases:
1. original action from states or federal gov't
2. review of decisions of court of appeals
3. review of state court

After discussion and votes
Writing takes weeks - months
Requires familiarity w/ variety of subjects
Copies sent to all members of the Court
Author receives a response from each Justice who voted with and against him
Some who voted with the author will reserve final judgement
Constant interchange continues while details are hammered out
People express their doubts about the decision
Fear that the government has too much power
Attacks on the Court are an expression of the unrest about the judicial system
Judging is not delegated.
Each decision is an individual decision of every justice.
A more informed knowledge of the decisional process should aid a better understanding.
Chief Justice sits at the South end of the table
Justices are summoned to meeting by a buzzer five minutes prior to the hour
everyone shakes hands
Chief Justice begins discussion of each case, followed by the Senior Associate Justice down the line by seniority
voting begins with junior Justice up the line to the Chief Justice
when any case gets 4 votes for review, it is transferred to an oral argument list
Full transcript