The United States Supreme Court justices are nine of the most powerful people in the western hemisphere. The decisions they make affect the lives of millions of Americans. Their power extends from traitors of the government to the smallest of microcosms, the classroom. The court abolished racially segregated schools in 1954 with the Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka decision. In a roundabout way, their actions in Bush vs. Gore decided the 2000 presidential election.
The justices' personal opinions have been alternately reviled and celebrated by a scrutinizing media.
Because justices are nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, they are not entirely above
the political fray. And because justices serve life terms on the bench, a president's appointees can
leave a lasting impact on the nation.
PBS presented extensive research on the history, present, and the future of the Supreme Court in a four-episode mini-series. The website companion to the series includes audio links and articles covering the future of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Robert's leadership.
PBS.org offered a profile of
Chief Justice John Roberts along with the other eight supreme court judges.
CBS show 60 minutes covered a side of Clarence Thomas that the public rarely gets to see. Thomas was among the most controversial nominees to the court because of alleged sexual harassment. Read an excerpt of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings at the University of Maryland site.
Learn more about Antonin Scalia at a page from the University of Virginia, where he was once a law professor. The University awarded him with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law.
Sonia Sotomayor is the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice and its third female justice. She was nominated to the post in 2009 by President Barack Obama. This CNN article, "Who is Sonia Sotomayor" outlines her personal and professional background, and offers a photo essay of her life. Check out articles and books by the judge here.
Samuel Alito was appointed by former President George W. Bush as the 110th Supreme Court Justice. CNN covers this historic event. View a profile and a collection of articles on Alito at Washingtonpost.com .
Elena Kagan was nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2010 to serve on the Supreme Court, replacing the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. CNN offers "fast facts" on the court's fourth female justice, and you can check out her notable statements and writings, courtesy of The New York Times. .
On The Issues examined the justices' opinions to compile a review of their stances on issues such as poverty, abortion and gun control.
Many reference sites exist to help students and the public make sense of Supreme Court decisions.
The Oyez Project is a multimedia database of U.S. Supreme Court cases. Read
abstracts of Court decisions and listen to oral arguments in RealAudio format. Cornell University's
Supreme Court Collection offers a calendar of recent decisions
and an archive of opinions since 1990.
The Touro College Law Center and the
outline landmark Supreme Court cases.
Learn more about the United States court system on GovSpot's
Judicial Branch page.