Supreme Court of the United States
The ratification of the
United States Constitution established the Supreme Court in 1789. Its powers are detailed in
Article Three of the Constitution. The Supreme Court was the only court specifically established by the Constitution while all other federal courts were created by
Congress. Congress is also responsible for conferring the title of "justice" to its members, who are known to scold lawyers for inaccurately referring to them as "judge", even though it is the term used in the Constitution.
The Court first convened on February 2, 1790,
 with six judges where only five of its six initial positions were filled. According to historian Fergus Bordewich, in its first session: "[T]he Supreme Court convened for the first time at the
Royal Exchange Building on Broad Street, a few steps from Federal Hall. Symbolically, the moment was pregnant with promise for the republic, this birth of a new national institution whose future power, admittedly, still existed only in the eyes and minds of just a few visionary Americans. Impressively bewigged and swathed in their robes of office, Chief Justice John Jay and three associate justices — William Cushing of Massachusetts, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and John Blair of Virginia — sat augustly before a throng of spectators and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. They had no cases to consider. After a week of inactivity, they adjourned until September, and everyone went home."
The sixth member,
James Iredell, was not confirmed until May 12, 1790. Because the full Court had only six members, every decision that it made by a majority was also made by two-thirds (voting four to two).
 However, Congress has always allowed less than the Court's full membership to make decisions, starting with a
quorum of four justices in 1789.
Earliest beginnings to Marshall
Under Chief Justices
Ellsworth (1789–1801), the Court heard few cases; its first decision was
West v. Barnes (1791), a case involving a procedural issue.
 The Court lacked a home of its own and had little prestige,
 a situation not helped by the highest-profile case of the era,
Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), which was reversed within two years by the adoption of the
The Court's power and prestige grew substantially during the
Marshall Court (1801–35).
 Under Marshall, the Court established the power of
judicial review over acts of Congress,
 including specifying itself as the supreme expositor of the
Marbury v. Madison)
 and made several important constitutional rulings giving shape and substance to the
balance of power between the federal government and the states (prominently,
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee,
McCulloch v. Maryland and
Gibbons v. Ogden).
The Marshall Court also ended the practice of each justice issuing his opinion
 a remnant of British tradition,
 and instead issuing a single majority opinion.
 Also during Marshall's tenure, although beyond the Court's control, the impeachment and acquittal of Justice
Samuel Chase in 1804–05 helped cement the principle of
From Taney to Taft
Taney Court (1836–64) made several important rulings, such as
Sheldon v. Sill, which held that while Congress may not limit the subjects the Supreme Court may hear, it may limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts to prevent them from hearing cases dealing with certain subjects.
 Nevertheless, it is primarily remembered for its ruling in
Dred Scott v. Sandford,
 which helped precipitate the
 In the
Reconstruction era, the
Fuller Courts (1864–1910) interpreted the new Civil War amendments to the Constitution
 and developed the doctrine of
substantive due process (
Lochner v. New York;
Adair v. United States).
Taft Courts (1910–30), the Court held that the
Fourteenth Amendment had
incorporated some guarantees of the
Bill of Rights against the states (
Gitlow v. New York),
 grappled with the new
antitrust statutes (
Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States), upheld the constitutionality of
military conscription (
Selective Draft Law Cases)
 and brought the substantive due process doctrine to its first apogee (
Adkins v. Children's Hospital).
The New Deal era
Vinson Courts (1930–53), the Court gained
its own accommodation in 1935
changed its interpretation of the Constitution, giving a broader reading to the powers of the federal government to facilitate President
New Deal (most prominently
West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish,
Wickard v. Filburn,
United States v. Darby and
United States v. Butler).
World War II, the Court continued to favor government power, upholding the internment of Japanese citizens (
Korematsu v. United States) and the mandatory pledge of allegiance (
Minersville School District v. Gobitis). Nevertheless, Gobitis was soon repudiated (
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette), and the
Steel Seizure Case restricted the pro-government trend.
Warren and Burger
Warren Court (1953–69) dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional
 It held that
segregation in public schools violates
equal protection (
Brown v. Board of Education,
Bolling v. Sharpe and
Green v. County School Bd.)
 and that traditional legislative district boundaries violated the right to vote (
Reynolds v. Sims). It created a general right to privacy (
Griswold v. Connecticut),
 limited the role of religion in public school (most prominently
Engel v. Vitale and
Abington School District v. Schempp),
incorporated most guarantees of the
Bill of Rights against the States—prominently
Mapp v. Ohio (the
exclusionary rule) and
Gideon v. Wainwright (
right to appointed counsel),
—and required that criminal suspects be apprised of all these rights by police (
Miranda v. Arizona).
 At the same time, however, the Court limited
defamation suits by public figures (
New York Times v. Sullivan) and supplied the government with an unbroken run of antitrust victories.
Burger Court (1969–86) marked a conservative shift.
 It also expanded Griswold's right to privacy to strike down abortion laws (
Roe v. Wade),
 but divided deeply on
affirmative action (
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke)
 and campaign finance regulation (
Buckley v. Valeo),
 and dithered on the
death penalty, ruling first that most applications were defective (
Furman v. Georgia),
 then that the death penalty itself was not unconstitutional (
Gregg v. Georgia).
Rehnquist and Roberts
Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005
Rehnquist Court (1986–2005) was noted for its revival of judicial enforcement of
 emphasizing the limits of the Constitution's affirmative grants of power (
United States v. Lopez) and the force of its restrictions on those powers (
Seminole Tribe v. Florida,
City of Boerne v. Flores).
 It struck down single-sex state schools as a violation of equal protection (
United States v. Virginia), laws against
sodomy as violations of
substantive due process (
Lawrence v. Texas),
 and the
line item veto (
Clinton v. New York), but upheld
school vouchers (
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) and reaffirmed Roe's restrictions on abortion laws (
Planned Parenthood v. Casey).
 The Court's decision in
Bush v. Gore, which ended the electoral recount during the
presidential election of 2000, was especially controversial.
Roberts Court (2005–present) is regarded by some as more conservative than the Rehnquist Court.
 Some of its major rulings have concerned
federal preemption (
Wyeth v. Levine), civil procedure (
Gonzales v. Carhart),
climate change (
Massachusetts v. EPA),
same-sex marriage (
United States v. Windsor and
Obergefell v. Hodges) and the Bill of Rights, notably in
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (
Baze v. Rees (