The Judiciary Act of 1789 is passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. That day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. Supreme Court was established by Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which their constitutionality was at issue. The high court was also designated to oversee cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice, and maritime jurisdiction. On February 1, 1790, the first session of the U.S. Supreme Court was held in New York City’s Royal Exchange Building.
The U.S. Supreme Court grew into the most important judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the American political order. According to the Constitution, the size of the court is set by Congress, and the number of justices varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine. In times of constitutional crisis, the nation’s highest court has always played a definitive role in resolving, for better or worse, the great issues of the time.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1776 Congress prepares instructions for negotiating treaty with France
- 1948 Honda Motor Company is incorporated
- 1827 Union General Henry Slocum is born
- 1953 United States will not “cringe” before Soviet weapons
- 1969 The “Chicago Seven” go on trial
- 1971 A game warden is reported missing
- 1966 Hurricane Inez batters Caribbean
- 622 Muhammad completes Hegira
- 1975 Redford stars in Three Days of the Condor
- 1996 Stephen King releases two books at once
- 1966 “Last Train To Clarksville” gives the made-for-TV Monkees a real-life pop hit
- 1890 The Mormon Church officially renounces polygamy
- 1964 Warren Commission report delivered to President Johnson
- 1988 Ben Johnson wins gold, temporarily
- 1963 McNamara and Taylor assess situation in Vietnam
- 1967 Political instability continues in South Vietnam
World War I
- 1918 Bulgaria seeks ceasefire with Allied powers
World War II
- 1941 Japanese gather preliminary data on Pearl Harbor