September 24, 1789

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On September 24, 1789, President George Washington signed the Judiciary Act of 1789 into law. On the same day, President Washington nominated John Jay to be the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. The Judiciary Act also established the number of associate justices at five. In 1803, the Judiciary Act was the statute under review in Marbury v. Madison.

Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states, "The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." In the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress "established with great particularity a limited jurisdiction for the district and circuit courts, gave the Supreme Court the original jurisdiction provided for in the Constitution, and granted the Court appellate jurisdiction in cases from the Federal circuit courts and from the state courts where those courts rulings had rejected Federal claims. The decision to grant Federal courts a jurisdiction more restrictive than that allowed by the Constitution represented a recognition by the Congress that the people of the United States would not find a full-blown Federal court system palatable at that time." Visit Archives.gov to read more about the Act and view an image version of the document.


Posted by Julie L. Kimbrough on Tue. September 28, 2010 10:48 AM
Categories: Uncategorized


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