The Supreme Court as we know it was established by President George Washington with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789. This court started as six justices but got moved to nine justices in 1869. Article III, Section I states that “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” So while the Constitution established the need for a court, it left the duty of creating that court to Congress. 

Here are ten things you might not have known about the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • The Supreme Court building was finished being built and first used on October 7, 1935. Before that, the Supreme Court was held in the Senate chambers in the US Capitol. Before that, the court moved around and just convened where it could.

  • William Howard Taft is the only person who served as President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

  • There was a grandfather/grandson duo who served on the Supreme Court, though not at the same time. John Marshall Harlan served on the bench from 1877-1911 and John Marshall Harlan II served on the bench from 1955-1971. 

  • The only justice to ever be removed from the Supreme Court was John Rutledge. He was removed due to giving a speech that denounced President Washington’s treaty with Britain. 

  • There has been an instance when two justices were sworn in on the same day. What happens to determine seniority comes down to age. William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell Jr. were sworn in on the same day in 1972.  

  • The justices are seated at the bench in the order of seniority. The Chief Justice sits in the middle with the most senior justice to their right and the second most senior justice to their left. The rest alternate in the same fashion. 

  • Before every session, the justices will shake the hands of the other justices. The “Judicial Handshake” was started by Justice Melville W. Fuller. This handshake also happens before they start private conferences.

  • When you take a step into the courtroom, there are white quill pens placed in front of the justices every day. Keeps the history alive, I suppose.

  • One of the biggest reasons people take voting for the president so seriously and why it’s so important is that the president might be nominating people to the Supreme Court. However, four presidents never got to nominate anyone during their presidency: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.

  • With the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, she became the first mother of school-age children to be a justice. 

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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