The Ultimate SCOTUS Quiz

By: Ed Grabianowski

The Ultimate SCOTUS Quiz
Image: Roger L. Wollenberg/Corbis

About This Quiz

Supreme Court judges make up the highest court in the U.S., exercising their authority to determine if laws passed by Congress and signed by the president, as well as decisions made by lower courts.
In what year was the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. built?
1791
1886
1935
The court met in New York City and Philadelphia, then in various locations in Washington, including the U.S. Capitol, until 1935, when a dedicated Supreme Court building was built at the urging of Chief Justice William Howard Taft.

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Which part of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court and its authority?
the Preamble
the First Amendment
Article Three
Article Three describes the federal court system, including the Supreme Court.

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Who was the first Chief Justice?
John Rutledge
John Jay
John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
George Washington

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What regulates the number of Supreme Court justices?
executive order
the Constitution
Congress
Article Three of the Constitution leaves it up to Congress to determine the number of justices.

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What is greatest number of justices that have ever sat on the Supreme Court at one time?
15
9
10
Between 1863 and 1866, there were ten justices on the Supreme Court.

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How long does a Supreme Court justice's term last?
four years
for life
The specific wording in the Constitution says justices may serve "during good behavior." Effectively, they serve for life unless they resign, retire or are impeached.
10 years

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How many Supreme Court justices have been impeached and removed from the court?
zero
Samuel Chase was impeached, but later acquitted, and kept his seat on the court. Abe Fortas was forced to resign ahead of impeachment hearings, but no justice has ever been fully impeached and removed from the court.
1
7

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What did President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 attempt to do?
require the Supreme Court to make decisions on all cases instead of sometimes sending them back to a lower court
force the Supreme Court to broadcast deliberations and oral arguments live on the radio
increase the number of Supreme Court justices to 15
Roosevelt's proposed law to increase the number of justices was sometimes known as his "court-packing plan," but the law was not passed.

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When the justices are seated on the bench, they're arranged from the center of the bench to the ends in what order?
seniority on the Supreme Court
The most senior judges (with the Chief Justice regarded as most senior regardless of actual time as a justice) sit in the center of the bench, while the justices with least seniority sit at the ends.
number of majority decisions they've joined
party affiliation

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Which of these tasks is included among the duties of the junior-most associate justice when the justices are in private conference?
announcing the names of the other justices as they enter the room
getting coffee for the other justices
The justice with the least seniority has to fetch coffee. Even on the highest court in the land it stinks to be the rookie.
choosing the music that will be played while the justices deliberate, typically classical but occasionally jazz

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The 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sandford established what?
that slave states were not subject to federal anti-slavery laws
that freed slaves could legally be recaptured and sold back into slavery
that African-Americans are not American citizens
The Dred Scott decision, denying African-Americans citizenship, is a shameful mark on the Supreme Court's record. It was undone by a congressional law and the Fourteenth Amendment.

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How many justices must agree that a case is important before the Supreme Court will hear the case?
2
4
It takes four justices to agree that a case is important enough for the Supreme Court.
9

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How many petitions to see a case are presented to the Supreme Court each year?
1,000 - 2,000
4,000 - 5,000
7,000 - 8,000
The court only takes on about 80 of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases presented to it in a term.

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What phrase, engraved above the front entrance of the Supreme Court building, serves as the court's axiom?
"Equal Justice Under Law"
The phrase "Equal Justice Under law" was proposed by the architects who designed the building and is based on an 1891 decision by Chief Justice Melville Fuller.
"Liberty and Justice for All"
"Truth, Justice and the American Way"

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Who is allowed in the room with the justices when they have a private conference to discuss a case or take a vote?
no one
Only the nine justices are allowed in the room during private conferences.
one security guard and one court stenographer
the lead attorneys for each side of the case

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True or false: Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are open to the public.
TRUE
Members of the public can line up to enter the court and watch oral arguments on a first-come, first-served basis.
FALSE

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Which president is the only one to complete a full term in office without appointing a Supreme Court justice?
Jimmy Carter
Three presidents did not have an opportunity to appoint a justice because their terms were shortened by death. Only Jimmy Carter served a full term as president without making an appointment.
Franklin Pierce
George H.W. Bush

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Who was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court?
Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor served from 1981 until she retired in 2006.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sonia Sotomayor

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When the president nominates someone for appointment to the Supreme Court, who must approve the nomination before the nominee can become a Supreme Court justice?
the Senate
The Senate must approve the nomination by a simple majority.
Congress
the House Judicial Affairs Committee

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What did the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision establish?
that Mexican immigrants were not entitled to legal protections from illegal searches and seizures by police
that a person had to be made aware of his or her legal rights before any statements made to police could be considered admissible in court
The process of a police officer "reading you your rights" when you're arrested stems from the Miranda case. "You have a right to remain silent," and so on is often known as Miranda rights.
that it was illegal for a police officer to shoot a fleeing suspect in the back

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What is the quorum (minimum number of judges needed) for the Supreme Court to hear a case?
4
6
Six judges must be present, although absent judges can later listen to recordings of the oral arguments and contribute to the decision.
7

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What case affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry throughout the United States?
Georgia v. Randolph (2006)
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) affirmed that same-sex marriage is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009)

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Which Supreme Court case did away with limits of corporate political spending?
Arizona v. Gant (2009)
Jaffee v. Redmond (1996)
Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
Citizens United severely undermined campaign finance laws.

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Most Supreme Court cases are appeals of a lower court's decision, but some cases can be filed directly to the Supreme Court. What kinds of cases can do that?
1st degree murder cases
lawsuits between two states, or between the federal government and a state
The Supreme Court has direct jurisdiction over state vs. state and U.S. vs. state cases.
cases involving the actions of a federal judge

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A statue of this person is located in the center of the ground floor of the Supreme Court building?
Jon Jay, first chief justice
John Marshall, fourth chief justice
The statue of Marshall formerly stood on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol but was moved into the Supreme Court in 1981.
Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury

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Why is the writing of the majority opinion such an important part of a Supreme Court decision?
The majority opinion is published in its entirety in every major newspaper in the nation.
The majority opinion is used to guide lower courts in their decisions on similar cases in the future.
The majority opinion explains not just what the court decided, but the reasoning behind it, allowing lower courts to base subsequent decisions on that reasoning.
The majority opinion is written into federal law during the next congressional session.

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In the early years of the Supreme Court, how many opinions did the court issue for each case?
one for each justice on the court
The process of each justice issuing his own opinion (there were only male justices at the time) was known as seriatim.
two -- the majority opinion and the dissent
one opinion representing the majority's decision on the case

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What happens if a case is decided when an even number of justices are present and the result is a tie?
The case is sent down to the lower court for review and may be petitioned to the Supreme Court again at a later date.
The decision of the lower court is affirmed, but the case is not considered a binding legal precedent the way it would be if there were a clear majority opinion.
The lower court's decision is affirmed without creating a legal precedent, similar to if the Supreme Court hadn't made any decision at all.
The case is held contradicto in adjecto (contradiction in itself) until a tie-breaking judge arrives to create a decisive decision.

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What branch of government is the Supreme Court part of?
Certiorari Branch
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court is part of the Judicial Branch.
Legal Branch

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The segregation of black and white students in public schools was ruled unconstitutional by what unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court decision?
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Brown v. Board of Education ruled that "separate but equal" was no longer an acceptable legal standard.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Furman v. Georgia (1972)

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You Got:
/30
Roger L. Wollenberg/Corbis

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