Origins of the Federal Court System

Creation of the Court

How was the U.S. Supreme Court created?

Article III, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution provided 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.” The Constitution was adopted in 1787 and ratified in 1788. However, the Constitution did not create the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress passed a law known as the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created the Court and established its jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act of 1789 called for six justices on the Court—a chief justice and five associate justices.


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