The Ultimate SCOTUS Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

In what year was the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. built?

The court met in New York City and Philadelphia, then in various locations in Washington, including the U.S. Capitol, until 1935, when a dedicated Supreme Court building was built at the urging of Chief Justice William Howard Taft.

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Which part of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court and its authority?

Article Three describes the federal court system, including the Supreme Court.

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Who was the first Chief Justice?

John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

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What regulates the number of Supreme Court justices?

Article Three of the Constitution leaves it up to Congress to determine the number of justices.

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What is greatest number of justices that have ever sat on the Supreme Court at one time?

Between 1863 and 1866, there were ten justices on the Supreme Court.

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How long does a Supreme Court justice's term last?

The specific wording in the Constitution says justices may serve "during good behavior." Effectively, they serve for life unless they resign, retire or are impeached.

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How many Supreme Court justices have been impeached and removed from the court?

Samuel Chase was impeached, but later acquitted, and kept his seat on the court. Abe Fortas was forced to resign ahead of impeachment hearings, but no justice has ever been fully impeached and removed from the court.

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What did President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 attempt to do?

Roosevelt's proposed law to increase the number of justices was sometimes known as his "court-packing plan," but the law was not passed.

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When the justices are seated on the bench, they're arranged from the center of the bench to the ends in what order?

The most senior judges (with the Chief Justice regarded as most senior regardless of actual time as a justice) sit in the center of the bench, while the justices with least seniority sit at the ends.

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Which of these tasks is included among the duties of the junior-most associate justice when the justices are in private conference?

The justice with the least seniority has to fetch coffee. Even on the highest court in the land it stinks to be the rookie.

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The 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sandford established what?

The Dred Scott decision, denying African-Americans citizenship, is a shameful mark on the Supreme Court's record. It was undone by a congressional law and the Fourteenth Amendment.

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How many justices must agree that a case is important before the Supreme Court will hear the case?

It takes four justices to agree that a case is important enough for the Supreme Court.

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How many petitions to see a case are presented to the Supreme Court each year?

The court only takes on about 80 of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases presented to it in a term.

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What phrase, engraved above the front entrance of the Supreme Court building, serves as the court's axiom?

The phrase "Equal Justice Under law" was proposed by the architects who designed the building and is based on an 1891 decision by Chief Justice Melville Fuller.

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Who is allowed in the room with the justices when they have a private conference to discuss a case or take a vote?

Only the nine justices are allowed in the room during private conferences.

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True or false: Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are open to the public.

Members of the public can line up to enter the court and watch oral arguments on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Which president is the only one to complete a full term in office without appointing a Supreme Court justice?

Three presidents did not have an opportunity to appoint a justice because their terms were shortened by death. Only Jimmy Carter served a full term as president without making an appointment.

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Who was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court?

Sandra Day O'Connor served from 1981 until she retired in 2006.

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When the president nominates someone for appointment to the Supreme Court, who must approve the nomination before the nominee can become a Supreme Court justice?

The Senate must approve the nomination by a simple majority.

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What did the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision establish?

The process of a police officer "reading you your rights" when you're arrested stems from the Miranda case. "You have a right to remain silent," and so on is often known as Miranda rights.

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What is the quorum (minimum number of judges needed) for the Supreme Court to hear a case?

Six judges must be present, although absent judges can later listen to recordings of the oral arguments and contribute to the decision.

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What case affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States?

Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) affirmed that same-sex marriage is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Which Supreme Court case did away with limits of corporate political spending?

Citizens United severely undermined campaign finance laws.

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Most Supreme Court cases are appeals of a lower court's decision, but some cases can be filed directly to the Supreme Court. What kinds of cases can do that?

The Supreme Court has direct jurisdiction over state vs. state and U.S. vs. state cases.

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A statue of this person is located in the center of the ground floor of the Supreme Court building?

The statue of Marshall formerly stood on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol but was moved into the Supreme Court in 1981.

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Why is the writing of the majority opinion such an important part of a Supreme Court decision?

The majority opinion explains not just what the court decided, but the reasoning behind it, allowing lower courts to base subsequent decisions on that reasoning.

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In the early years of the Supreme Court, how many opinions did the court issue for each case?

The process of each justice issuing his own opinion (there were only male justices at the time) was known as <i>seriatim</i>.

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What happens if a case is decided when an even number of justices are present and the result is a tie?

The lower court's decision is affirmed without creating a legal precedent, similar to if the Supreme Court hadn't made any decision at all.

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What branch of government is the Supreme Court part of?

The Supreme Court is part of the Judicial Branch.

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The segregation of black and white students in public schools was ruled unconstitutional by what unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court decision?

Brown v. Board of Education ruled that "separate but equal" was no longer an acceptable legal standard.

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About This Quiz

Supreme Court judges make up the highest court in the U.S., exercising their authority to determine if laws passed by Congress and signed by the president, as well as decisions made by lower courts.

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