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125th Anniversary Materials

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A "Progressive Contraction Of Jurisdiction": The Making Of The Modern Supreme Court, Carolyn Shapiro Feb 2013

A "Progressive Contraction Of Jurisdiction": The Making Of The Modern Supreme Court, Carolyn Shapiro

125th Anniversary Materials

The Supreme Court in 1888 was in crisis. Its overall structure and responsibilities, created a century earlier by the Judiciary Act of 1789, were no longer adequate or appropriate. The Court had no control over its own docket - at the beginning of the 1888 term, there were 1,563 cases pending - and the justices’ responsibilities, which included circuit riding, were impossible to meet. Shaped as it was by a law almost as old as the country itself, the Supreme Court in 1888 - and the federal judicial system as a whole - would be barely recognizable to many today.

This chapter - which ...