Supreme Court 101: A Primer for Non-Lawyers

A common refrain from lawyers is that they will take a case “all the way to the Supreme Court,” but it is easier said than done to get the Supreme Court to review a case. The Supreme Court of the United States agrees to hear only a small number of cases each term, so the odds are stacked against most litigants. The reasons why the Court declines to hear particular cases range from the merits to procedural matters. While these procedural hurdles may seem arcane, they preserve judicial resources and further the proper separation of powers among the branches of government. Article III of the Constitution provides that the judicial power extends only to cases or controversies, and the jurisdictional and standing rules further that requirement.

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