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Dates That Matter

September 24, 1789

The Supreme Court of the United States is established.

 Why does it matter?

The first session of the new US Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 and established the Supreme Court of the United States. That body originally consisted of only six justices (one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices) instead of the nine we have today. The Act also set up a system of district and circuit courts and established jurisdiction for each of the courts. This was important so that the former colonies (now states) could maintain their individual local courts for local issues, but provided for the settlement of issues that arose among people from different states, or issues related to federal (rather than state) laws.

The first Chief Justice of the United States was John Jay, appointed by President George Washington.

For more information...

The Supreme Court Historical Society
This site features historical information about the Supreme Court. The "Learning Center" section includes sample Supreme Court cases with discussion questions for use by students.

The Judiciary Act of 1789
Full text version of the Judiciary Act.