Supreme Court (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
An appellate tribunal with high powers and broad authority within its jurisdiction.
The U.S. government and each state government has a supreme court, though some states have given their highest court a different name. A supreme court is the highest court in its jurisdiction. It decides the most important issues of constitutional and statutory law and is intended to provide legal clarity and consistency for the lower appellate and trial courts. Because it is the court of last resort, a supreme court's decisions also produce finality. In addition, a supreme court oversees the administration of the jurisdiction's judicial system.
A supreme court is established by a provision in the state or federal constitution. The legislative bodies of the jurisdiction enact statutes that create a court system and provide funding for it. A supreme court usually consists of five, seven, or nine judges, who are called justices. In the federal courts, the justices are appointed for life, whereas the states have a variety of selection methods. Typically the state governor will appoint a state supreme court justice, and then he will stand for election within two years to serve a full term, which may be from six to twelve years. A judicial election may involve a contest between the justice and another candidate, or it may be a retention election, where the voters must decide whether the judge...
(The entire section is 837 words.)
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