Editor's note: After nearly 90 minutes of debate, readouts indicate the U.S. Supreme Court appears divided on ideological lines in the subsidies challenge to President Obama's health care law. Justice Anthony Kennedy focused on the potential negative consequences for states that choose not to create their own exchanges. The decision, expected in June, will affect roughly 7 million Americans who receive federal subsidies for their health care. - Rebecca
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.