The judicial branch of the U.S. government is the system of federal courts and judges that interprets laws made by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch. At the top of the judicial branch are the nine justices of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States.
What Does the Judicial Branch Do?
From the beginning, it seemed that the judicial branch was destined to take somewhat of a backseat to the other two branches of government.
The Articles of Confederation, the forerunner of the U.S. Constitution that set up the first national government after the Revolutionary War, failed even to mention judicial power or a federal court system.
In Philadelphia in 1787, the members of the Constitutional Convention drafted Article III of the Constitution, which stated that: “[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”
The framers of the Constitution didn’t elaborate the Supreme Court’s powers in that document, or specify how the judicial branch should be organized—they left all that up to Congress.