U.S. Supreme Court
A term to know.
The Supreme Court of the United States sits at the apex of the federal court system. It is made up of nine judges, known as justices, and is presided over by the Chief Justice. It sits in Washington, D.C. Parties who are not satisfied with the decision of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal (or, in rare cases, of a U.S. District Court) or a state supreme court can petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. This is done mainly by a legal procedure known as a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (cert.). The Court decides whether to accept such cases. Each year, the Court accepts between 100 and 150 of the some 7,000 cases it is asked to hear for argument. The cases typically fit within general criteria for oral arguments. Four justices must agree to hear the case (grant cert). While primarily an appellate court, the Court does have original jurisdiction over cases involving ambassadors and two or more states.