The majority of the cases on the US Supreme Court Docket are appellate cases. The appellate cases on the Supreme Court docket are attempts to have rulings from lower courts overturned.
Appellate cases comprise the majority of the Supreme Court Docket since the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over only a small number of cases. Therefore, much of the Court’s time is spent examining lower court rulings that are presented to the Supreme Court for consideration on the US Supreme Court Docket.
In order to be placed on the US Supreme Court, the Supreme Court must believe that there is an underlying constitutional issue, or have an inclination that one of the lower courts did not act properly.
However, inclusion on the US Supreme Court docket does not automatically mean that the Supreme Court will overturn the lower court. In fact, in many cases, the Supreme Court supports, or upholds, the finding of a lower court.
The Supreme Court docket is the list of cases that a particular session of the Supreme Court has agreed to hear. The Supreme Court has the authority to set its own docket. However, in a largely forgotten process, a lower court judge may assist in forming the US Supreme Court Docket if he or she “certifies” a case as being in need of national attention or that needs clarification by the Supreme Court.