Editor's note: The U.S. Supreme Court order delaying the executions of three inmates challenging Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol leaves open the possibility that executions could proceed if the state obtains a substitute chemical, The New York Times reports. The order barred Oklahoma from executing the inmates with the controversial sedative midazolam. - Stephanie
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Supreme Court decision to review gay marriage case: 'Given the near unanimous string of rulings recognizing the constitutional right to marry, and the Supreme Court's decision to let all those rulings stand, including in Virginia, I am optimistic that marriage equality will soon be the law of the land' - statement
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he's 'pleased' Supreme Court is taking on gay marriage case; 'All of Michigan's voters, as well as the citizens of our nation, will be well served by the court's decision to decide this case and resolve such an important issue' - statement
The Supreme Court of the United States (first abbreviated as SCOTUS in 1879) was established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution in 1789 as the highest federal court in the United States. It has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, plus original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. In the legal system of the United States, the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of federal constitutional law, although it may only act within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction.
The Court consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they resign, retire, take senior status, or are removed after impeachment (though no justice has ever been removed). In modern discourse, the justices are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. Each justice has one vote, and while many cases are decided unanimously, many of the highest profile cases often expose ideological beliefs that track with those philosophical or political categories. The Court meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.