How the Supreme Court Reaches a Decision

When the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear a case, the only part of the process that is open to the public is the oral argument. The rest of the deliberations take place behind closed doors between the nine judges and their teams of clerks. So how exactly do nine people reach a final decision on precedent-setting cases? Here’s a look at their seven-step process.

1: Accept the case

Although a few rare cases emanate from the Supreme Court, the country’s highest court is primarily an appeals court, meaning it rules on opinions already given by lower courts. The Supreme Court can only accept between 100 and 150 cases a year out of the 7,000 cases it is asked to consider.

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