The Judiciary Act of 1789 passed by Congress on September 24, 1789 established the highest federal court in the United States: The Supreme Court. First justices to serve on the court were six in number whose terms did not end until death or retirement. President George Washington signed the act putting it into effect and nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice with John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices.
A Bit of Trivia...
When the first session of the Court convened in 1790, the tradition of justices wearing wigs still lingered. Justice William Cushing was the only justice to arrive at the court wearing the white wig he had worn on the Massachusetts bench. The ribbing he took from boys outside the court apparently turned the tide against the headgear, and he took the advice of Thomas Jefferson: “For heaven’s sake, discard the monstrous wig which makes the English judges look like rats peeping through bunches of oakum.”
The Supreme Court of the United States is the only court specifically established by the Constitution of the United States. Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Court was to be composed of six members—though the number of justices has been nine for almost all of its history, this number is set by Congress, not the Constitution. The court convened for the first time on February 2, 1790.
The United States Supreme Court: Iconic symbol of our democracy."The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith." These words, spoken by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in laying the cornerstone for the Supreme Court Building on October 13, 1932, express the importance of the Supreme Court in the American system.