What Cases Go Straight to the Supreme Court?

What Cases Go Straight to the Supreme Court?

(NewsBroadcast.com) – As the highest court in the land, the US Supreme Court has many cases on its docket. There are some lawsuits the court hears directly, but most come before it through the appeals process.

Cases coming straight to the SCOTUS do not happen often. They must be those over which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction.

Original Jurisdiction Defined

Original jurisdiction means a case originates in a court. In other words, the Supreme Court is the first to hear it, it doesn’t go through any others at a lower level.

All other suits fall under appellate jurisdiction. They come from lower courts through the appeals process. The SCOTUS does not have to hear these, but rather the justices pick and choose which ones to take on.

The Supreme Court’s Original Jurisdiction

The original jurisdiction of the SCOTUS is to hear cases involving representatives of foreign nations or a US state. This right comes from Article III, section 2 of the US Constitution.

Despite the ability of the SCOTUS to directly hear some lawsuits, it mainly focuses on those between two or more states. This ties into the exclusive power granted in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The Court will also hear cases where the opposing parties are a state and the federal government. The exclusive power to hear such lawsuits came from the ruling in United States v. Texas in 1892. In that ruling, the Court explained cases involving the federal government fall under the original jurisdiction powers granted in the constitution.

Despite its powers of original jurisdiction, the Court can also decline to hear such cases. When it comes to those between or involving states, the SCOTUS generally sticks with those involving natural resource or boundary disputes. It will refer others to lower courts.

The Supreme Court is very busy. As such, it has to be methodical in which cases it hears. Most of the time, the lawsuits come from lower courts, but in original jurisdiction cases, it’s often the first. Despite this power, it’s still a rare occurrence for a case to go directly to the highest court.

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