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Judicial Branch & Supreme Court Primary Sources

US Constitution, Article III

This section of the US Constitution, drafted in 1787, offered rough provisions for the establishment of a national Supreme Court along with more specific outline for the protection of certain rights, such as the right to a trial by jury in criminal cases.

The Judiciary Act of 1789

This Act, drafted by the nation's First Congress, established specific guidelines for the creation of a federal court system, including the number of justices who would serve on the US Supreme Court—one Chief Justice and five associate justices.

Marbury v. Madison

The transcript of the ruling of the Supreme Court in the 1803 case that set the precedent for judicial review.

The Judiciary Act of 1869

Since the establishment of the federal court system in 1789, Congress approved several Acts both increasing and decreasing the number of justices to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. The Judiciary Act of 1869 set the number of seats at nine, which has remained the size of the Court ever since.

The Evarts Act

In order to begin to deal with the Supreme Court's overwhelming caseload, New York Senator William Evarts led Congress to establish a new tier of appeals courts within the federal court system. The Act also granted the Supreme Court authority, though very limited, in determining which cases it heard.

The Judges' Bill of 1925

This Bill, recommended by the Supreme Court justices and approved by Congress in 1925, gave the Court greater authority in determining which cases it heard.

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