Supreme Court of the United States

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What is the rule of four in regard to the Supreme Court?

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The rule of four in regard to the Supreme Court is the practice whereby a petition for a writ of certiorari will only be granted if it is supported by four of the court's nine justices.

A writ of certiorari is a key part of the judicial review process. Its...

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The rule of four in regard to the Supreme Court is the practice whereby a petition for a writ of certiorari will only be granted if it is supported by four of the court's nine justices.

A writ of certiorari is a key part of the judicial review process. Its granting involves the reexamination of a decision made by a lower court or administrative agency. When an appellant seeks judicial review, they will apply to a higher court, such as the United States Supreme Court, to have the actions of a lower court or administrative agency looked at again.

It is entirely within the discretion of the higher court whether or not they choose to do so. If they do, then they will grant the appellant a writ of certiorari, thus setting in process the reexamination of a case decided by a lower court or agency.

To make the decision to grant writs of certiorari less arbitrary, the Supreme Court has adopted a so-called rule of four, whereby a petition for review will only be granted if it is supported by four of the nine justices.

It should be pointed out, however, that this is just an unwritten rule, a convention that has no legal or constitutional basis. It's simply a rule of thumb used by the justices of the Supreme Court to decide which cases merit further consideration.

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