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Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions

Processes

How is a case brought to the U.S. Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction over the vast majority of cases, at least since 1925 when Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1925. This means that most cases originate in the lower courts and the U.S. Supreme Court does not have to review the lower court’s decision unless it decides to grant certiorari, or review.

In more than 90 percent of the Court’s cases, the party asking the Court to hear the case—the petitioner—petitions the court for review in a document called a petition for writ of certiorari. The opposing party—the respondent—then responds in a document asking the court not to accept the case for review. The Court then decides whether the case is “certworthy,” or acceptable for review.



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