When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
February 2, 1790
US Supreme Court meets for the first time under the new US Constitution
at the Merchants Building in New York City.
The Supreme Court was established in 1789 by Article Three of the U.S. Constitution, which also granted Congress the power to create inferior federal courts.
The Constitution permitted Congress to decide the organization of the Supreme Court, and the legislative branch first exercised this power with the Judiciary Act of 1789. The act, signed into law by President George Washington, specified that the court would be made up of six justices who would serve on the court until they died or retired.
The Supreme Court was set to first assemble on February 1, 1790 at the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City. But due to some justices’ transportation issues, the meeting had to be postponed until the next day. Though the court had its first meeting on February 2, 1790, it didn’t actually hear any cases in its first term. The court’s early meetings were concentrated on working out organizational procedures.
The six justices handed down their first decision on August 3, 1791 in Philadelphia with West v. Barnes, an unremarkable case involving a financial dispute between a farmer and a family to which he owed a debt.
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