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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US. Its decisions cannot be appealed and can only be changed by another Supreme Court decision or a constitutional amendment. The number of justices serving on the court is determined by Congress rather than the Constitution, but since 1869 it has always consisted of one chief justice and eight associate justices. They are nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, and have their jobs for life, unless they resign, retire, or are removed from office. The key responsibilities of the Supreme Court is to examine laws and government actions to ensure they do not violate the principles laid down in the Constitution. This practice, known as judicial review, allows the court to strike down laws that do not conform to the Constitution.

How the president can check the judiciary:

  • Appoints judges
  • Has power to pardon convicted criminals

How the legislature can check the judiciary:

  • Approves federal judges
  • Has power to impeach and remove judges
  • Can initiate constitutional amendments and can alter the size and structure of courts
  • Sets court budgets

US Chief Justice John Roberts
John Roberts was appointed chief justice in September 2005

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