How Much Do You know about the Supreme Court?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

For decades, the U.S. president has been one of the most powerful and influential people on the planet. But the president is by no means the only master of democracy – the Supreme Court, with its famous justices, is another U.S. power broker, one that often decides the fates of millions of peoples’ lives. In this quiz, what do you really know about the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court has decided major cases in the country’s history. In 1973, it took on the challenges of Roe v. Wade, which became a landmark case on abortion and the right to privacy. In 1966, it addressed Miranda v. Arizona, which created important changes with regard to due process and self-incrimination.

Do you recall other landmark Supreme Court cases? They include the likes of Brown v. Board of Education, Marbury v. Madison, Plessy v. Ferguson and a lot more.

The justices who wield such incredible power are often under intense scrutiny, particularly during the confirmation process. Their political leanings and intellectual fortitude can shape (or destroy) aspects of our society.

All rise for this Supreme Court quiz! Let’s see if you can win the case or if you get tossed out of the courtroom!

How many justices sit on the Supreme Court?

There are nine total justices on the Supreme Court. They are some of the most powerful men and women not only in America but in the world.


True or false, is the Supreme Court the most powerful court in the United States?

It's true. When it comes to judicial matters, there's no court that wields more power than the Supreme Court. This court has the ability to shape much of constitutional law.


The Supreme Court mostly deals with which kinds of cases?

The Supreme Court is mostly a court of appeals. It's the where cases wind up when lower courts have failed to resolve them.


How long do Supreme Court justices serve?

Supreme Court justices serve for life. It's why their appointments are so critical to the balance of U.S. politics -- one very liberal or conservative justice can swing votes and alter the fabric of American life.


In what year did the court finally feature a female justice?

It took two centuries for the U.S. to finally elevate a woman to the Supreme Court. In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor took her seat, thank to her appointment by Ronald Reagan.


Each year, about how many cases compete to make it into the Supreme Court's calendar?

Each year, about 7,500 cases do their best to push their issues into the Supreme Court. Only about 80 or so will actually make it.


Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

In U.S. history, only 17 people have served as Chief Justice. Currently, that honor goes to John Roberts, who took his seat in 2005.


How many female Supreme Court justices are there?

There are currently three female Supreme Court justices. They are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.


When was the Supreme Court created?

Article III, section 1 of the Constitution formed the Supreme Court in 1789. It is one of the three major branches of the federal government.


How do Supreme Court justices prepare for each case?

Justices are too busy to immediately delve into every detail of every case. So their hand-picked clerks prepare detailed memos that highlight each case's vital points. Then, justices hear oral arguments.


Justices always wear robes while they're in court. What color are those robes?

Supreme Court justices always don black robes before they enter the courtroom. No one knows the origin of this tradition, but it may be rooted in a desire for modesty of power.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg tends to side with which faction of the court?

Ginsburg is known for her liberal stance on many cases. She graduated at the top of her class at Colombia Law School and became a justice in 1993.


Which president nominated John Roberts to be Chief Justice?

In 2005, George W. Bush nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court. He sailed through his confirmation hearings, in part by demonstrating a powerful grasp of Supreme Court history and precedent.


Who was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

Patriot John Jay was the court's first Chief Justice. He had the seat from 1789 to 1795. Then, he became governor of New York.


About how much time does each party have to present oral arguments before Supreme Court justices?

After years of preparation, lawyers have about 30 minutes to present their arguments to the justices. That time includes any questions the justices might have regarding the issues at hand.


For the first 100 years of the court, what were justices required to do?

Each year, justices had to work at each of the circuit courts around the country, an agonizing ordeal in the days where there were no planes or even cars. The practice was finally stopped in 1891.


Who was the only president who also served on the Supreme Court?

William Taft was U.S. president from 1909 to 1913. Then he went on to join the Supreme Court, where he served as Chief Justice for nine years.


Sandra Day O'Connor had a record of siding with which side on cases?

As she was nominated by President Reagan, you can imagine that O'Connor normally sided with conservative causes in the cases she heard. Later in life, she occasionally took a more liberal perspective in court.


What is notable about Chief Justice John Roberts?

Roberts was the youngest Chief Justice in the court's history. He was just 50 years old when he took his seat.


How are justices seated in the courtroom?

Justices take their seats by seniority. Chief Justice John Roberts, of course, sits in the middle.


What sort of people become Supreme Court clerks?

For many, it's a career-making gig. Many of the court's clerks are recent law school graduates. These men and women work closely justices to clarify cases prior to decisions.


Justice Antonin Scalia was often noted for which trait?

Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, was a strongly conservative justice. He often wrote separate opinions that lambasted people and subjects with very harsh language.


How did Justice David Terry die?

Terry has the distinction of being the only justice targeted by an assassination attempt … a successful one. He was killed by the bodyguard of a man in who had confronted Terry himself in a contentious court case.


How many people of African-American descent have served on the court?

In all, two men of African-American descent have made it to the court. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall broke the color barrier, in 1991, Clarence Thomas succeeded him.


Which of the following justices has the LEAST seniority on the court?

Neil Gorsuch was chose to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016. He was nominated by President Trump and took his seat in early 2017.


How many different Supreme Courts have there been in U.S. history?

Historians separate each court era by its Chief Justice. So, since there have been 17 Chief Justices, there have also been 17 Supreme Courts.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said she'd like to serve on the Court until she's at least what age?

Ginburg grabbed headlines in 2018 -- and cheered the hearts of American women -- when she declared that she'd like to serve on the court until she's at least 90 years old. Her presence helps to balance out the male-dominated court.


What is the Chief Justice's annual salary?

In 1789, Chief Justice made about $4,000 per year. These days, the job definitely pays better, at around $270,000 per year … almost enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment in D.C.'s exorbitantly priced housing market.


The Supreme Court heard its first case in August 1791. How long did it take to decide the case?

It took the court just one day to decide West v. Barnes. The case covered a financial dispute between a farmer and a landowner.


Samuel Chase is the only justice ever to have faced which challenge?

Chase was appointed to the court by none other than George Washington. He was impeached because people suspected he was letting his political beliefs affect his courtroom judgement, but he was later cleared.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!