The first Supreme Court is established

The Judiciary Act of 1789 is passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. That day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

READ MORE: Why Do 9 Justices Serve on the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court was established by Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which their constitutionality was at issue. The high court was also designated to oversee cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice and maritime jurisdiction. On February 1, 1790, the first session of the U.S. Supreme Court was held in New York City’s Royal Exchange Building.

The U.S. Supreme Court grew into the most important judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the American political order. According to the Constitution, the size of the court is set by Congress, and the number of justices varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine. This number, however, can be changed at any time by Congress. In times of constitutional crisis, the nation’s highest court has always played a definitive role in resolving, for better or worse, the great issues of the time.

READ MORE: 7 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Supreme Court

ALSO ON THIS DAY

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First episode of "60 Minutes" airs

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Muhammad completes Hegira

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Fannie Farmer opens cooking school

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Japanese gather preliminary data on Pearl Harbor

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Bulgaria seeks ceasefire with Allied powers

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Chicago 8 trial opens in Chicago

The trial for eight antiwar activists charged with inciting violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago before Judge Julius Hoffman. Initially there were eight defendants, but one, Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers, denounced Hoffman ...read more

Ben Johnson wins gold, temporarily

On September 24, 1988, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson runs the 100-meter dash in 9.79 seconds to win gold at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Johnson’s triumph, however, was temporary: He tested positive for steroids three days later and was stripped of the medal. Ben ...read more

Warren Commission report delivered to President Johnson

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The Mormon Church officially renounces polygamy

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A game warden is reported missing

Neil LaFeve, the game warden at Sensiba Wildlife Area in Wisconsin, is reported missing. When LaFeve, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, did not show up to his own party, his wife called the police. The next morning, authorities found LaFeve’s truck. A pool of blood and two ...read more

Honda Motor Company is incorporated

Motorcycle builder Soichiro Honda incorporates the Honda Motor Company in Hamamatsu, Japan. In the 1960s, the company achieved worldwide fame for its motorcycles (in particular, its C100 Super Cub, which became the world’s best-selling vehicle); in the 1970s, it achieved ...read more