Highest US judicial tribunal, composed since 1869 of a chief justice and eight associate justices. Appointments are made for life by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and justices can be removed only by impeachment. Supreme Court decisions set precedents that lower courts are expected to follow.
The US Supreme Court hears appeals from decisions of the US Court of Appeals and from the state supreme courts. It also adjudicates questions of constitutional propriety, conflicts between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, conflicts between states or individuals living in different states, and conflicts in which the US government is a party.
In Britain, the Supreme Court of Judicature is made up of the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
The US Supreme Court was created in 1787, under Article III of the US Constitution. The number of justices is set by Congress, and the number fluctuated from 6 to 10 before settling at 9 in 1869. The role of the court has varied throughout its history. In its early years, the court mostly handled cases concerning the division of power between the state and federal governments. From the mid-1900s, the court handled a growing number of cases concerning the civil rights and personal liberties of individuals.