Social Studies - 2019-20
GOVT.10c - Process for Supreme Court Deciding Cases
The student will apply social science skills to understand the federal judiciary by
c) describing how the Supreme Court decides cases;
UNDERSTANDING THE STANDARD
The Supreme Court hears cases and
makes decisions based on the opinions
of the majority of the justices.
Steps in deciding cases
Request for hearing: Writs of certiorari are filed or on appeal.
Acceptance of cases: The acceptance of cases is determined by the rule of four—four of the Supreme Court justices must agree to hear the case.
Briefs: Both sides of the case and any interested parties submit written information summarizing their points of view.
Oral arguments: Lawyers for each side present oral arguments. They are often questioned by the justices regarding their arguments.
Conference: Following oral arguments, justices meet to discuss the merits of the case. The decision of the court is determined by a majority vote.
Opinions: Justices are assigned to write the majority and minority opinions of the court. When all opinions have been
written and the justices have determined which opinion they will support, the decision is announced in public. A justice
who disagrees with that opinion may write a dissenting opinion.