- from The Supreme Court
The nine justices on the Supreme Court all meet in Washington, D.C. They are part of the judicial branch of the government – our system of courts.
Throughout the country, there are local courts, state courts, and federal courts. But the Supreme Court is the only court established and named in the U.S. Constitution. It is the highest court in the land. And sometimes called the “court of last resort.”
There is nothing in the Constitution that states how many justices should serve. Over the years, various acts of Congress have altered the number of seats on the Supreme Court. From a low of five to a high of ten. In 1869, shortly after the Civil War, the number of seats on the court was fixed at nine. Once confirmed, justices serve for the rest of their lives – or until they choose to retire. New members can only be appointed when one of the nine justices leaves. The longest time anyone served on the Supreme Court was William O. Douglas. Justice Douglas served from 1939–1975 for a total of 36 years, 7 months, and 8 days.