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IN OUR VIEW | First Monday: U.S. Supreme Court begins new term today

October 4, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Though the Founding Fathers recognized the needs for the U.S. to have a Supreme Court, it took a while for that court to get up an running.

The U.S. Constitution, Section 1 of Article 3 authorizes the Judicial Branch of the government:

"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. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."

But no one did much about it until the Judiciary Act of 1789. The act set the number of justices at six--one chief justice and five associates. Congress dickered with the number over the years and settled on nine in 1869. The act also further clarified jurisdiction and laid the foundation for the system of judicial districts and courts still in use today.

And finally the U.S. Supreme Court finally met for the first time in 1790 at the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City and did, well, nothing much.

Chief Justice John Jay presided over a court with no permanent home and no cases. The court would not see its first case appear on the docket -- Van Staphorst v. Maryland -- until the next year. However, it was settled before it reached the court. Their first decision, though, came the same year in West v. Barnes.

How times have changed.

Since 1917, the court has convened on the first Monday in October. The session will last until summer. During that period they will hear and rule on many cases -- some that make headlines and some that only those involved will ever hear about. But all are important.

Today at 10 a.m., the justices will file into the court and the marshal will announce, ""The Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!"

It's an impressive spectacle.

Over the years, the Supreme Court has played an ever-increasing role in our lives. Their decisions affect each of us and generations to come.

This session will be no different. And we will be keeping a close eye on what develops as the term progresses.

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