Supreme Court

Facts About the State Court of New York

Facts About the State Court of New York

New York State Court Defined:

As is common in all 50 states in America, the head of the executive branch of the local government of New York is the Governor of the state.

New York consists of a legislative branch, referred to as the legislature, which consists of a Senate and an Assembly. Dissimilar to most states; however, New York law permits electoral fusions, which allows for the presentation of New York ballots to reveal a larger number of parties.

The court system in New York typically tends to produce an assortment of confusion for those associated with other states. As is found in Maryland and Washington D.C., the highest court in New York is referred to as the ‘Court of Appeals’ and not the ‘Supreme Court.’

Instead of the trial court being referred to as the “Superior Court,” the New York court system labels the trial court as the “Supreme Court.”

Historically speaking, county superior courts, like New York’s county supreme courts, were viewed as the highest level of trial court; these court systems oversee a network of inferior trial courts, for example various recorder’s courts, courts of referees and commissioners, and municipal courts.

The state court of New York’s intermediate appellate court (the court system between the New York State Supreme Courts and the New York Court of Appeals) is referred to as the New York State Supreme Court-Appellate Division. Local courts in towns and villages of the state are called Justice Courts; these courts are the starting point for all criminal cases that occur in outside cities; this court system handles a variety of other matters including traffic ticket cases, small claims hearings and issues pertaining to zoning.

Who is in Barack Obama’s Supreme Court?

Who is in Barack Obama's Supreme Court?

Barack Obama’s supreme court


There are a number of similarities that can be found among the current Supreme Court Justices. The only member of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court who did not serve as a judge is Justice Elena Kagan. Justice Clarence Tomas and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are the only members of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court who have not served as professors at law schools.

Chief Justice John Roberts


Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005 by President George W. Bush. John G. Roberts graduated from Harvard Law School. He served as a Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court. Before becoming Chief Justice, John Roberts had previously been nominated to serve as an Associate justice.

Justice Antonin Scalia


Justice Antonin Scalia is the longest service Supreme Court Justice. Justice Scalia was appointed to the Court in 1986 by Ronald Reagan. Justice Antonin Scalia served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Justice Scalia graduated from Harvard Law School.


Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.  Justice Anthony Kennedy earned his Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has continued to serve as a Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law intermittently since 1965.


Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas is near the top of the list of Supreme Court justices who have attracted the highest degree of controversy, in Justice Thomas’s case due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Justice Clarence was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, after earning his degree from Yale Law School.

Justice ruth bader ginsburg


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest member of the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She attended Harvard Law School, but earned her Bachelor of Laws from Columbia Law School, and was granted honorary Doctors of Laws degrees from Willamette University and Princeton University.
Justice Stephen Breyer


Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. He earned a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Harvard Law School. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had previous experience as a judge due to his service on the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, including four years as Chief Judge.


Justice Samuel Alito


Justice Samuel Alito was appointed to the Court by President George W. Bush. Samuel A. Alito, Jr. graduated from Yale Law School. Samuel Alito stated in his college yearbook that he would “eventually warm a seat on the Supreme Court.” Samuel A. Alito, Jr. faced a controversial nomination process.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor


Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s biography reveals a varied life experience. Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s biography indicates when nominated to a position on a lower court her nomination was delayed into the following calendar year, 1991 into 1992 when President George H.W. Bush appointed her to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, and 1997 into 1998 when nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Clinton. Her appointment to the Supreme Court by President Obama in 2009 did not face such a delay.

Justice Elena Kagan


Justice Elena Kagan developed her legal experience as a law professor. Justice Elena Kagan earned her Law degree from Harvard Law School, where she would later become the dean. She was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Obama in 2010. 

A Short Biography on Justice Stephen Breyer

A Short Biography on Justice Stephen Breyer

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. He is considered a liberal pragmatist.
Stephen Breyer was born August 15, 1938 in San Fransisco, California. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1955, before completing a B.A. degree in philosophy from Stanford University, and going on to become a Marshall Scholar at Magdalen College at Oxford University. He also earned a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Harvard Law School.
After completing his schooling, Stephen Breyer completed a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. He then became a law professor and Lecturer at Harvard Law School beginning in 1967. He also wrote a series of prominent textbooks on administrative laws which are still in use. 
He served as a Special Assistant to the United States Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust and assistant Special Prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973. In 1980, he was appointed Circuit Judge to the Court Appeals for the First Circuit, and in 1990 was appointed Chief Judge of the First Circuit. He served as Chief Judge for four years, until President Clinton nominated him to serve on the Supreme Court. 

A Short Biography on Justice Elena Kagan

A Short Biography on Justice Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan was President Barack Obama’s second nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States. She is the only member of the current Supreme Court who does not have prior experience as a judge.
Elena Kagan was born on April 28, 1960 in New York City. She graduated from Princeton University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History. While at Princeton she served as one of the editorial chairs of the Daily Princetonian. After graduation, Elena Kagan earned Princeton University’s Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship. 
This scholarship permitted her to attend Worcester College at Oxford University. She earned a master of philosophy on 1983, and went on to earn a magna cum laude Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1986. While there, Elena Kagan served as supervisory editor of the Harvard Law Review. While serving in that capacity, she was noted for her ability to navigate the politically charged and divided law school with ease.
After graduation, she served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School from 1991 to 1995. She was then tapped to serve as Associate White House Counsel and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council from 1995 through 1999 in the Clinton Administration. 
After leaving the Clinton Administration she returned to Harvard Law School as a professor for four years, before becoming the dean of Harvard Law School from 2003-2009. She served fourteen months as the Solicitor General of the United States under the Obama Administration. In May 2010, President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court of the United States, a position for which she was approved by a margin of sixty three to thirty seven.

Facts About the State Court of Oklahoma

Facts About the State Court of Oklahoma

State Court Oklahoma Explained:

The government system of the US State of Oklahoma is established and administered through the Oklahoma Constitution. The State government of Oklahoma is a republican democracy that is modeled after the Federal government of the United States.

Oklahoma’s state government possesses three branches: the legislative branch, the judicial branch and the executive branch. Through a distinct system of separation of powers (also known as checks and balances) each of these branches possesses a distinct amount of authority to act on its own. Some authority, through this system, is used to regulate other branches, and in turn, some of the authority is distributed to each specific branch.

The state government of Oklahoma is based in the capital city of Oklahoma City and the head of the executive branch is the Governor of Oklahoma. The legislative branch of the state is referred to as the Legislature, which consists of the Oklahoma Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Oklahoma Supreme Court and the State’s Court of Criminal Appeals are Oklahoma’s highest court systems—both operated in the judicial branch of government.

The State court of Oklahoma is located within the judicial system of the state. The judicial branch of Oklahoma interprets the Oklahoma law and constitution; it is headed by the Supreme Court.

The judiciary branch consists of two courts of last resort, courts of limited jurisdiction, and courts of general jurisdiction. Additionally, the Oklahoma judiciary contains two independent courts.

 All judges and justices who operate in the judicial branch require appointment made by the Governor. Candidates within the branch must first go through a nominating process administered by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. This board selects three candidates to submit to the Governor for a single selection to the office.

Facts About the State Court of Pennsylvania

Facts About the State Court of Pennsylvania

State Court of Pennsylvania
The State court system of Pennsylvania is governed and maintained based on the interpretation of the State’s constitution. Specifically; however, the State court system of Pennsylvania is regulated and administered through the state government’s Judiciary system.
Pennsylvania’s Judiciary branch is divided into 60 judicial districts. The majority of these circuits, with the exception of Philadelphia, possess magisterial district judges (formerly referred to as district justices and justices of the peace). These individuals typically preside over preliminary hearings in misdemeanor as well as felony trials. All minor, meaning summary, criminal offenses and civil claims are administered and heard by this court system.
The majority of criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas. This state court of Pennsylvania also serves as the appellate court to the underlying and respective district judges and for all local agency decisions.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas that are not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or the Supreme Court. The Superior Court also possesses original jurisdictional powers to review warrants for wiretap surveillance.
The Commonwealth Court system is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. The Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court in the judicial system. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected and the chief justice is determined through seniority. 

Facts About the State Court of Texas

Facts About the State Court of Texas

State Court Texas Defined:

The state government of Texas consists of a state government, as well as an assortment of local governments found at the county and municipal levels. 

The State court system of Texas is regulated and administered through the judicial branch of government. The judicial system of the state of Texas possesses a very complex structure; the Texas judiciary system is often regarded as the most complex local court system in the United States, for it possesses many layers and an assortment of overlapping jurisdictions. 

The State Court Texas contains two courts of last resort: the Texas Supreme Court, which hears and administers decisions concerning civil cases and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which hears and administers decisions concerning criminal suits.

Partisan elections are used to choose all of the judges found at all levels of the judiciary, with exception of various municipal benches, which typically appoint judges. The governor of Texas is responsible for filling vacancies by appointment to those areas of the judicial branch that require it. 

All members of the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are elected based on a statewide nomination. Since 1994, all 18 seats (nine on each court) have been held by a member of the Republican Party. 

Similar to many other states, the State court of Texas contains numerous localized courts that are realized through jurisdictional boundaries.  If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Texas lawyers.

James Wilson

James Wilson

Supreme Court Justice: James Wilson
James Wilson was one of the original six justices appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington. He was also one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, member of the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  James Wilson was born on September 14, 1742 in Scotland and attended many Scottish universities without ever getting a degree. Wilson later moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1766 and began teaching at The Academy and College of Philadelphia. He soon began reading law at John Dickinson’s and attained the bar two years later.
James Wilson was nominated on September 24, 1789 for the role of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by George Washington, after the court began the 1789 Judiciary Act. Wilson was then was confirmed by the Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission three days later. Wilson only heard nine cases between his appointment in 1789 and his death nine years later.
As one of the first American legal philosophers, James Wilson thought through in great detail some of the thinking recommended in the decisions issuing around that time in the Supreme Court. Wilson felt particularly compelled to spend time arguing out the reasons and justification behind the decisions made in the court.
Famous Cases
Hayburn’s Case (1792): A Supreme Court case where the court was invited to make a decision on whether Congress could assign certain non-judicial duties to the federal circuit courts which were in their official capacity. This case was the first time the Supreme Court looked at the issue of justifiability. Eventually, Congress reassigned the duties in question, and the Court did not have to give judgment in this case. At the time of the case, each of the Supreme Court Justices also served on a Circuit Court. Due to the fact, five of the six Justices including James Wilson declared it to be unconstitutional as judges in the District Courts.
Chisholm v. Georgia (1793): A Supreme Court case that was considered the first Supreme Court case of impact and significance. Because of the date, there is very little legal precedent available. The case was superseded almost immediately by the Eleventh Amendment. In South Carolina in 1792, Alexander Chisholm, who was the executor of the Robert Farquhar’s estate, tried to sue Georgia State in the Supreme Court regarding payments for goods that were owned by Farquhar from the American Revolutionary War. General Edmund Randolph, the U.S. Attorney, argued on behalf of the plaintiff. Meanwhile, Georgia refused to appear as the defendant, claiming that it could not be sued as a sovereign state without granting consent to the suit.
The Court, including Justice James Wilson, decided in a 4 to 1 vote in favor of the plaintiff. The justices argued that Article III, Section II, of the Constitution rescinded the sovereign immunity of the states and gave federal courts the power to hear disputes between States and private citizens. Because of the case, the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution was ratified in 1795. Doing so removed federal jurisdiction in situations where citizens of a specific state tried to sue another state. However, a citizen of one state still had the power to sue the Federal courts if the state consented to the suit or if Congress abrogated the immunity of the state under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Georgia v. Brailsford (1794): A Supreme Court case where the judge presiding over the Court instructed the jury that they had the right to judge not only the law, but also the facts. This case is often thought of as the precedent of jury nullification. The Chief Justice explained the opinion, which was supported by James Wilson, which explicitly acknowledged jury nullification by saying that juries were the best judges of facts while courts were the best judges of law, but it still allowed juries to look at both parts to make a decision.
 
Hylton v. United States (1796): A U.S. Supreme Court case where the Court stated that a tax placed on carriages did not violate Article I, Section 9’s rule for the apportioning of direct taxes. The decision stated that the carriage tax was actually an excise tax instead of a direct tax, which required apportionment by population among the states. The Supreme Court also noted that a tax placed on land was a type of direct tax contemplated by the U.S. Constitution.
The case was significant because it was the first case heard Supreme Court that challenged the constitutionality of an act performed by of Congress. By holding up the tax, the Court exercised its power of judicial review, although the court refrained from overturning the statute. Rather than issuing a single opinion, the Justices issued their own analysis, but all of them including that of James Wilson still held the same position.
Calder v. Bull (1798): A Supreme Court case where the Court examined whether the court had the authority to review legislative decisions made by the state. The legislature of Connecticut demanded a new trial in a court regarding the contents of a will, which overruled the previous court ruling. In a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court which included James Wilson, the Supreme Court held that the Connecticut legislature’s actions were not in violation of the ex post facto law found in Constitution under Article I Section 10. This holding is still valid today and states that the ex post facto provision found in the Constitution applies only to criminal cases and not civil cases.
New York v. Connecticut (1799): A case heard by the Supreme Court that involved the State of New York and the State of Connecticut which came out of a land dispute between two private parties. This case with the first where the Supreme Court exercised its power of original jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution in order to hear the controversy between the two states. The land dispute involved a strip of land on the western border of New York bordering Pennsylvania which Connecticut claimed jurisdiction over and in turn granted the land to two private parties.
After New York granted certain parcels within the region to other private parties, the successors in title filed an action. The Court denied a motion to remove the suit from the Circuit Court, and New York then filed a bill in equity against the State of Connecticut. However, since the bill in equity was filed when the General Assembly of Connecticut was out of session, the state did not participate in the case. However, the claimants’ attorneys argued that no reasonable notice was given for the injunction to be allowed and that New York did not have an interest in the proceedings that deserved a stay. Justice James Wilson and the majority opinion of the Supreme Court found the notice to be sufficient, but denied the injunction, since New York lacked standing.

Louis Brandeis

Louis Brandeis

Supreme Court Justice: Louis Brandeis
Louis Brandeis was a former Justice on the United States Supreme Court between 1916 and 1939. Brandeis was born in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Louisville University of the Public Schools. He then entered Harvard Law School where he graduated with the highest G.P.A. in the history of the school.
Louis Brandeis was nominated to become a justice of the Supreme Court on January 29, 1916 by President Wilson. However, this nomination was denounced and bitterly contested by conservative Republicans. This controversy resulted in the Senate Judiciary Committee holding a public hearing on regarding the nomination for the first time in its history. The trial allowed witnesses to come forth before the committee and provide testimony either in support of or in opposition to the confirmation. Many of the objections made regarding the nomination was due to Brandeis’ “radicalism” and “reformer” stances.  On June 1, 1916, the United States Senate officially confirmed Louis Brandeis’ nomination by a 47 to 22 vote. 
Famous Cases
Gilbert v. Minnesota (1920): A Supreme Court case that dealt with a state law which prohibited interference with the enlistment efforts of the military. The majority opinion stated that the state did have the power for make the national purpose its own purpose and that this power could extend to the state exerting its own police powers in order to prevent the citizens of the state from obstructing its accomplishment.
In his dissent, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that the statute in question affected the privileges, immunities, and rights of a United States Citizen and that the statute deprived the citizen of some of his liberty by invading the freedom and privacy of the home. This statement suggested that Justice Louis Brandeis wished to introduce the idea of privacy as being connected to the Constitution and that it could work with the First Amendment to reassure the freedom of speech within the walls of a citizen’s residence.
Whitney v. California (1927): A Supreme Court decision where the Court discussed whether using a private wiretapped telephone conversation obtained by federal agents without any judicial approval as evidence would violate the defendant’s rights given by both the Fourth and Fifth Amendment. The Court held in a 5-4 decision that neither the rights of the Fourth nor Fifth Amendment of the defendant were violated by doing so. This decision by the Court was later overturned by the 1967 case Katz v. United States.
Justice Louis Brandeis wrote a particularly famous dissent regarding the case.  He attacked the proposal that expanding the Fourth Amendment to encompass telephone conversation protection was inappropriate.  He argued that mail was a public service provided by the government and telephone service was a public service provided by an authority, implying that there was no real difference between a sealed letter and a private telephone conversation. Justice Louis Brandeis argued further that even without the question of the Constitution, the judgment still should be reversed. In Washington, wiretapping was considered a crime, thus the federal court should not allow a prosecution utilizes a crime to continue. Because the 18th Amendment did not allow Congress to authorize to violate a state’s criminal laws of a state and the unlawful acts were not ordered by a government official but instead were done by individual officers, the government was not legally guilty. 

Roger B. Taney

Roger B. Taney

Supreme Court Justice: Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney was the fifth Chief Justice in the Supreme Court between 1836 till his death in 1864. He was born on March 17, 1777 and received a basic education from many private tutors. Roger B. Taney entered Dickinson College at the age of 15 and graduated in 1795 with honors. Afterwards, he read law and in 1799 was admitted to the bar. Afterwards, he quickly became known as one of the most promising young lawyers in Maryland.
Roger B. Taney was nominated for the position of Associate Justice in January 1835 by President Jackson. He was confirmed for the seat on March 15, 1836, and was given his commission on the same day.  As a judge, Roger B. Taney often favored the power of the individual states. In many cases regarding the Commerce Clause worked to create a more nuanced way of accommodating competing state and federal claims of regulatory power, while more often leaning toward the states. 
Famous Cases
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857): A Supreme Court Case also known as the Dred Scott Decision, where the ruling by the court said that individuals African descent that were brought into the United States and kept as slaves, or the slaves’ descendants, were not protected by the United States Constitution and would never be considered U.S. citizens.
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote the extremely controversial opinion that resulted from the 7-2 vote of the court. This was the first case since Marbury v. Madison where the Supreme Court decided that an act of Congress was unconstitutional. The opinion first began by concluding that the Supreme Court lacked the proper jurisdiction in the issue because Dred Scott did not have standing to sue in this court. The court continued on with the highly criticized action of concluding that Congress did not have the proper authority to illegalize slavery in federal territories and that, since slaves were not considered citizens, they did not have the right to sue in court. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney went even further by ruling that like chattels or private property, slaves could not be taken from their rightful owners without due process.
While Justice Robert B. Taney wanted to settle the issue of slavery with Court’s decision, instead the decision had the opposite effect. The Supreme Court’s ruling decision was heavily debated across the country. While the Court’s ruling was never explicitly overruled, the Court later stated in the Slaughter-House Cases that certain sections of the decision had been already overruled in 1868 by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837): A Supreme Court case regarding the Warren Bridge and Charles River Bridge of Boston that settled a dispute over a clause in the Constitution that discussed the regarding obligation of a contract. The Charles River Bridge Company had been allowed a charter to build a bridge over the Charles River which would connect Boston and Cambridge. When Massachusetts allowed another company to construct the Warren Bridge which would be very close to the first one and would join the same locations, the proprietors the first bridge claimed that the state legislature had violated the contract since it had implied exclusive rights. The Court sided ultimately with second bridge company in a 5-2 decision.
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in his opinion that the case was strictly about how the contract was interpreted and that the contract in question must be interpreted in a narrow way, meaning that the Charles River Bridge Company did not actually have the exclusive right to build the bridge there. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney went further and pointed out that a contract should be closely interpreted, and if there was any uncertainty, it should be decided by the public.